Exercising during learning improves vocabulary acquisition: behavioral and ERP evidence.

Institute of Medical Psychology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany.
Neuroscience Letters (Impact Factor: 2.06). 09/2010; 482(1):40-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.06.089
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Numerous studies have provided evidence that physical activity promotes cortical plasticity in the adult brain and in turn facilitates learning. However, until now, the effect of simultaneous physical activity (e.g. bicycling) on learning performance has not been investigated systematically. The current study aims at clarifying whether simultaneous motor activity influences verbal learning compared to learning in a physically passive situation. Therefore the learning behavior of 12 healthy subjects (4 male, 19-33 years) was monitored over a period of 3 weeks. During that time, behavioral and electrophysiological responses to memorized materials were measured. We found a larger N400 effect and better performance in vocabulary tests when subjects were physically active during the encoding phase. Thus, our data indicate that simultaneous physical activity during vocabulary learning facilitates memorization of new items.

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    ABSTRACT: Moderate physical activity improves various cognitive functions, particularly when it is applied simultaneously to the cognitive task. In two psychoneuroendocrinological within-subject experiments, we investigated whether very low-intensity motor activity, i.e. walking, during foreign-language vocabulary encoding improves subsequent recall compared to encoding during physical rest. Furthermore, we examined the kinetics of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in serum and salivary cortisol. Previous research has associated both substances with memory performance.In both experiments, subjects performed better when they were motorically active during encoding compared to being sedentary. BDNF in serum was unrelated to memory performance. In contrast we found a positive correlation between salivary cortisol concentration and the number of correctly recalled items. In summary, even very light physical activity during encoding is beneficial for subsequent recall.
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    Australian Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology 09/2013; 3(2). DOI:10.5539/jedp.v3n2p102
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    ABSTRACT: Acute physical activity has been repeatedly shown to improve various cognitive functions. However, there have been no investigations comparing the effects of exercise during verbal encoding versus exercise prior to encoding on long-term memory performance. In this current psychoneuroendocrinological study we aim to test whether light to moderate ergometric bicycling during vocabulary encoding enhances subsequent recall compared to encoding during physical rest and encoding after being physically active. Furthermore, we examined the kinetics of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in serum which has been previously shown to correlate with learning performance. We also controlled for the BDNF val66met polymorphism. We found better vocabulary test performance for subjects that were physically active during the encoding phase compared to sedentary subjects. Post-hoc tests revealed that this effect was particularly present in initially low performers. BDNF in serum and BDNF genotype failed to account for the current result. Our data indicates that light to moderate simultaneous physical activity during encoding, but not prior to encoding, is beneficial for subsequent recall of new items.
    PLoS ONE 05/2013; 8(5):e64172. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0064172 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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Jun 4, 2014