Study shows the effects of non-strenuous physical exercise in memory functions

A new article in Scientific Reports highlights the effects of acute physical exercise in memory functions. The study was conducted by a team of Swiss researchers at the Université de Genève.

According to researchers at the Swiss institution, non-strenuous physical exercise boosts memory functions by increasing neural plasticity in the hippocampus section of the brain.

“Hippocampal neuronal networks encode episodic memory representations, including the temporal organization of elements, and can thus benefit motor sequence learning,” the co-authors explained in the findings.

“While previous work established that acute physical exercise has positive effects on declarative memory linked to hippocampal plasticity mechanisms, its influence on memory for motor sequences, and especially on neural mechanisms underlying possible effects, has been less investigated.”

In the new study, the Swiss team probed the effects of non-strenuous physical exercise on motor sequence learning and its underlying neurophysiological mechanism in 15 participants.

Among the 15 participants, the research team instructed the use of memory tests after 30 minutes of moderate cycling, after 15 minutes of intense cycling, and after a break from exercise.

Researchers also measured their behavior, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activity, and circulating anandamide activity (AEA). Additionally, blood tests initiated looked at endocannabinoid levels.

Based on the findings, researchers concluded the following, “We show that exercise enhanced motor sequence memory, significantly for high-intensity exercise and tending towards significance for moderate intensity exercise.”

“This enhancement correlated with AEA increase, and dovetailed with local increases in caudate nucleus and hippocampus activity. These findings demonstrate that acute physical exercise promotes sequence learning, thus attesting the overarching benefit of exercise to hippocampus-related memory functions,” Blanca Marin Bosch, and the other authors of the study, wrote in their findings.

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