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To maximize cognitive benefits, study suggests you exercise brain and body at the same time

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Phys­i­cal and men­tal mul­ti­task­ing may boost mem­o­ry, study sug­gests (UCLA research alert):

Per­form­ing mem­o­ry train­ing exer­cis­es at the same time as ped­al­ing a sta­tion­ary bike led to bet­ter gains in mem­o­ry than doing the train­ing exer­cis­es after work­ing up a sweat, accord­ing to a 55-per­son study led by UCLA researchers. The find­ings sug­gest that exer­cise may tem­porar­i­ly make it eas­i­er for the brain to cre­ate new mem­o­ries

The researchers used stan­dard tests of mem­o­ry, learn­ing, con­cen­tra­tion and atten­tion to gauge the cog­ni­tive per­for­mance of 55 adults ages 60 through 75… Of the par­tic­i­pants, 29 were assigned to a “simul­ta­ne­ous” group that attend­ed twice-week­ly class­es where they received an hour of in-per­son mem­o­ry train­ing at the same time as they rode sta­tion­ary bikes. A “sequen­tial” group of 26 par­tic­i­pants also attend­ed twice-week­ly class­es but, unlike the first group, rode a bike for one hour before receiv­ing the same mem­o­ry train­ing as the oth­er group. In both groups, the mem­o­ry train­ing involved an instruc­tor teach­ing com­mon tech­niques to remem­ber infor­ma­tion.

After a four-week study peri­od, the researchers repeat­ed the cog­ni­tive tests on all par­tic­i­pants, and found that while every­one had improved in cer­tain abil­i­ties, peo­ple in the “simul­ta­ne­ous” group had greater improve­ments in a num­ber of mem­o­ry, rea­son­ing and atten­tion skills. In par­tic­u­lar, they scored bet­ter on tests mea­sur­ing how well they could rec­og­nize, remem­ber and retrieve words and geo­met­ric fig­ures.”

The Study:

Simul­ta­ne­ous Aer­o­bic Exer­cise and Mem­o­ry Train­ing Pro­gram in Old­er Adults with Sub­jec­tive Mem­o­ry Impair­ments (Jour­nal of Alzheimer’s Dis­ease). From the abstract:

  • Back­ground: Sev­er­al mod­i­fi­able lifestyle fac­tors have been shown to have poten­tial ben­e­fi­cial effects in slow­ing cog­ni­tive decline. Two such fac­tors that may affect cog­ni­tive per­for­mance and slow the pro­gres­sion of mem­o­ry loss into demen­tia in old­er adults are cog­ni­tive train­ing and phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. There are cur­rent­ly no effec­tive treat­ments for demen­tia; there­fore, pre­ven­ta­tive strate­gies to delay or pre­vent the onset of demen­tia are of crit­i­cal impor­tance.
  • Objec­tive: The aim of this study was to deter­mine the rel­a­tive effec­tive­ness of simul­ta­ne­ous per­for­mance of mem­o­ry train­ing and aer­o­bic exer­cise to a sequen­tial per­for­mance inter­ven­tion on mem­o­ry func­tion­ing in old­er adults.
  • Con­clu­sion: These find­ings indi­cate that a 4-week simul­ta­ne­ous mem­o­ry train­ing and aer­o­bic exer­cise pro­gram is suf­fi­cient to improve mem­o­ry, atten­tion, and rea­son­ing abil­i­ties in old­er adults.

The Study in Context:

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2 Responses

  1. Per­haps this explains why actors typ­i­cal­ly pace to and fro and may beat a rhythm to the words when first learn­ing a new role.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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