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The Working Memory Benefits of Proprioceptively Demanding Training: A Pilot Study

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-The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of proprioception on working memory. It was also of interest whether an acute and highly intensive period of exercise would yield working memory gains. The training group completed a series of proprioceptively demanding exercises. There were also control classroom and yoga groups. Working memory was measured using a backward digit recall test. The data indicated that active, healthy adults who undertook acute, proprioceptively demanding training improved working memory scores compared to the classroom and yoga groups. One possible reason that the training yielded significant working memory gains could be that the training was proprioceptively dynamic, requiring proprioception and at least one other factor-such as locomotion or navigation-at the same time, which may have contributed to the improvements in working memory performance.
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ISSN 0031-5125DOI 10.2466/22.PMS.120v18x1
Perceptual & Motor Skills: Learning & Memory
THE WORKING MEMORY BENEFITS OF PROPRIOCEPTIVELY
DEMANDING TRAINING: A PILOT STUDY
1 , 2
ROSS G . ALLOWAY AND TRACY PACKIAM ALLOWAY
University of North Florida
Summary .— The aim of this study was to investigate the e ect of propriocep-
tion on working memory. It was also of interest whether an acute and highly inten-
sive period of exercise would yield working memory gains. The training group
completed a series of proprioceptively demanding exercises. There were also con-
trol classroom and yoga groups. Working memory was measured using a backward
digit recall test. The data indicated that active, healthy adults who undertook acute,
proprioceptively demanding training improved working memory scores compared
to the classroom and yoga groups. One possible reason that the training yielded
signi cant working memory gains could be that the training was proprioceptively
dynamic , requiring proprioception and at least one other factor—such as locomotion
or navigation—at the same time, which may have contributed to the improvements
in working memory performance.
Proprioception has been de ned as the awareness of body orientation
and positioning ( Malliou, Gioftsidou, Pa s, Beneka, & Godolias, 2004 ; see
Gibson, 1968 , for a more expansive de nition). Impaired proprioception
has been shown to diminish balance and increase the likelihood of injury
( Robbins, Gou, & McClaran, 1992 ; Robbins, Waked, Gouw, & McClaran,
1995 ). In contrast, proprioceptively demanding training, including stretch-
ing, strengthening, plyometrics, and sports-speci c agility drills, dramati-
cally reduced injury rates of the anterior cruciate ligament in a large-scale
study of over a thousand soccer players ( Mandelbaum, Silvers, Watanabe,
Knarr, Thomas, Gri n, et al ., 2005 ). Elderly adults were found to bene-
t both physically and cognitively from a proprioceptively demanding in-
tervention when they undertook a regimen of balance training, exercising
with a narrow base of support, and completing an obstacle course ( Shu-
bert, McCulloch, Hartman, & Giuliani, 2010 ). Researchers found that par-
ticipants improved in balance measures and cognitive skills, including a
trail making task that measures visual scanning and mental exibility.
One key cognitive skill that has recently been associated with proprio-
ceptive skills is working memory, the ability to process and recall informa-
tion ( Goble, Mousigian, & Brown, 2012 ). Working memory capacity as a
© Perceptual & Motor Skills 2015
2015, 120, 3, 1-10.
1 Address correspondence to Tracy Packiam Alloway, University of North Florida, 1 UNF
Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224 or e-mail ( t.alloway@unf.edu ).
2 The authors thank Jamie Guined and MovNat for providing access to the volunteers taking
part in the MovNat training, and Hillary McDonald for providing access to the volunteers
taking part in the yoga class. The authors declare that they have no nancial interest in and
are not nancially connected with MovNat.
R. G. ALLOWAY & T. P. ALLOWAY
2
function of individual di erences throughout the lifespan has been found
to mediate outcomes in reasoning tasks (Salthouse, 1994), IQ scores ( Con-
way, Cowan, Bunting, Therriault, & Minko , 2002 ), academic attainment
( Alloway & Alloway, 2010 ), reading ( Siegel, 1994 ), and even building Lego
blocks ( Morrell & Park, 1993 ). Working memory varies across the lifespan
( Alloway & Alloway, 2013 ), and the decline of working memory has been
suggested as a possible explanation for the decrease in proprioceptive sen-
sibilities in older adults ( Goble, Coxon, Wenderoth, Van Impe, & Swin-
nen, 2009 ; Goble, Noble, & Brown, 2010 ). Working memory capacity can
also vary between individuals of the same age group ( Alloway & Gather-
cole, 2006 ), and evidence has suggested that these individual di erences
may play a role in athletic performance (e.g., Vestberg, Gustafson, Mau-
rex, Ingvar, & Petrovic, 2012 ). Working memory is so crucial to sports per-
formance that when working memory becomes overloaded performance
declines ( Maxwell, Masters, & Eves, 2003 ). One reason that working mem-
ory may be so important for sports performance is that it allows athletes
to integrate and manage multiple proprioceptive-related variables, such
as judging distance, appropriate force, and joint alignment.
The aim of this pilot study was to extend existing research to investigate
the impact of proprioception speci cally on working memory. While work-
ing memory can support proprioceptively demanding activities, it is unclear
whether proprioceptively demanding activities can, in turn, enhance work-
ing memory performance. While previous research has suggested that pro-
prioceptively demanding training for an older population (> 66 yr.) can be
cognitively bene cial ( Shubert, et al ., 2010 ), it is unclear whether such ben-
e ts would also be seen in physically active adults across a broad age range.
In order to investigate this issue, healthy adults completed a working memo-
ry test before and after participating in proprioceptively demanding exercis-
es focused on balance, body awareness, and e ciently navigating through
a natural environment using a program called MovNat. It was of interest
whether an acute and highly intensive period of exercise would yield simi-
lar cognitive bene ts, as reported using a 12-wk. proprioceptively demand-
ing program ( Shubert, et al ., 2010 ) and in other highly intensive periods (e.g.,
20 min.) of aerobic activity ( Garavan, Kelley, Rao, & Stein, 2000 ). The authors
con rm that the present study was approved by an ethics review board. If
proprioceptively demanding exercises can bene t cognitive performance:
Hypothesis 1 . An improvement in working memory scores is ex-
pected compared to those who engage in either propriocep-
tively demanding or static exercises.
Hypothesis 2 . An improvement in working memory scores is ex-
pected compared to those who engage in only the propriocep-
tively demanding exercises.
PROPRIOCEPTION AND WORKING MEMORY 3
M ETHOD
Participants
The participants in all of the following three groups were self-select-
ing. The proprioceptive training group comprised of 18 adults (14 men; age
range = 18–59 years with 67% between 18 and 39 years). Only one participant
had attended a MovNat workshop before. When asked about other regular
physical activity, 11 reported attending the gym during the week, engaging
in a range of activities including cardiovascular machines (e.g., treadmills),
using weights (free weights and machine), and CrossFit activities.
The control classroom group comprised of 27 adults (12 men; age
range = 18–39 years). None had attended a MovNat workshop before. Of
this group, 20 reported regularly attending the gym during the week, en-
gaging in a range of activities including using cardiovascular machines
(e.g., treadmills), engaging in resistance training (free weights and ma-
chine), and participating in group exercise classes.
The control yoga group comprised of 20 adults (4 men; age range = 18–
29 years). None had attended a MovNat workshop before. Of this group,
16 reported regularly attending the gym during the week, engaging in a
range of activities, including using cardiovascular machines (e.g., tread-
mills), engaging in resistance training (free weights and machine), and
participating in group exercise classes.
Materials
Working memory was measured using a paper and pencil version of
Backward Digit Recall taken from a standardized assessment, the Auto-
mated Working Memory Assessment ( Alloway, 2007 ). The individual re-
called a sequence of spoken digits in the reverse order. The test began with
recalling two numbers in backward order and is increased by one item
in each block, up until nine numbers per block. There were two trials in
each block, and the number stimuli were di erent for each testing session.
Scoring was recorded in two ways. A span score was calculated based on
the highest block where the individual correctly recalled one of the two
trials. The number of correct trials was also recorded for each participant.
Test-retest reliability was .86 in a normative sample ( Alloway, 2007 ), and
convergent validity was established in Alloway, Gathercole, Kirkwood,
and Elliott (2009 ). The procedure was as follows: the experimenter called
out the numbers at a rate of one number per second and the participant
wrote down the number in backwards order. The scoring was conducted
by researchers who were blind to the control and training groups.
Procedure for Control Groups
There were two testing sessions for each control group. Session 1 pro-
vided a baseline of working memory performance. The participants in the
R. G. ALLOWAY & T. P. ALLOWAY
4
control groups then engaged with their respective activities. After comple-
tion, they were given the working memory test with a new set of numbers
(Session 2).
In the Classroom group, the participants were seated for approximate-
ly 2 hr. for a classroom-style lecture where new information was deliv-
ered. In the Yoga group the participants practiced Kipalu yoga, which is a
gentle Hatha yoga practice focusing on body posture and awareness. The
postures or asanas included seated, standing, and supine postures and in-
cluded isometric contraction and relaxation of di erent muscle groups and
regulated breathing. Throughout the yoga session led by a trained yoga
practitioner, the participants were encouraged to be mindful of their body
position. They practiced at an intermediate level for approximately 1 hr.
Procedure for Training Group
The training group participated in three testing sessions. Session 1
provided a baseline assessment of working memory. After completing the
baseline testing, the training group participated in the series of physical
activities designed by MovNat for approximately 2 hr. They were then ad-
ministered the working memory test with new numbers (Session 2). They
completed an additional training session of approximately 2.5 hr. and were
then retested on the working memory test with new numbers (Session 3).
The MovNat activities can be categorized according to the follow-
ing four categories: balance, awareness of relative position of body parts/
joints, locomotive, and awareness of strength of e ort. Each activity last-
ed around approximately 3 to 5 min. and was preceded with instructions
from a MovNat trainer.
Balance activities .— These were conducted on a narrow base of support
(a beam approximately 3 in. wide). Activities included walking forward,
backward, and laterally; moving from a squatting to standing position;
crawling forward and backward; and combining all movements together
as connected sequences.
Awareness of relative position of body parts .— This included paying at-
tention to posture and bases of support. With regard to posture, the par-
ticipants were cued to shift from rounded backs and concave chests, to
draw shoulder blades down and toward the back, with scapula retracted
and depressed, allowing chests to expand convexly. The participants were
cued to visualize their pelvis as a bowl of water being tilted forward to
spill over. They also lay prone on the ground and used their feet, shoul-
ders, and hands to create new bases of support; they repeated these move-
ments while supine.
Locomotive awareness .— This included running barefoot and focusing
on landing on the ball of the foot with bent knees, crawling contralaterally
(rather than ipsilaterally) forward and backward such that the right hand
PROPRIOCEPTION AND WORKING MEMORY 5
and left foot moved forward while the left hand and right foot stayed on
the ground and vice-versa, and navigating over and under 3 ft. high top-
cross bars.
Strength awareness exercises .— These included lifting and carrying. Dur-
ing lifting, the participants used muscular e ort to consciously maintain
the spine in a straight column (in order to minimize sheer forces), maintain
pressure with abdominal bracing before the lift, and use the Valsalva tech-
nique to increase intra-thoracic pressure and maintain rigidity through-
out the lift. During carrying, the participants selected a kettle ball heavy
enough (25–100 lb., depending on the individual) to challenge a recruit-
ment of the CNS and muscle system, and force them to brace their abdo-
men while walking with the weight on their left or right shoulder. The par-
ticipants were asked to activate muscles on the side carrying the weight
and relax the opposite side.
Analyses
In order to con rm that all three groups were at a similar cognitive
skill level at the baseline, between-group one-way analyses of variance
(ANOVAs) were conducted with working memory scores as the depen-
dent variable. Between-group mixed ANOVAs with working memory
scores as the dependent variable (repeated across testing times) tested hy-
potheses.
R ESULTS
Separate one-way ANOVAs were conducted on the span and trial
working memory scores to con rm that the training and control groups
did not di er signi cantly with respect to their Session 1 scores ( Table
1 ). There were no signi cant di erences between the control and training
groups scores: working memory span ( F 2, 62 < 1) or working memory trials
( F 2, 62 < 1).
A series of mixed ANOVAs were conducted on the working memory
scores pre- and post-training as a function of group. For working memory
TABLE 1
D ESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS OF WORKING MEMORY (WM) SCORES AS A FUNCTION OF GROUP
Session
Control: Classroom Control: Yoga Training
WM Trials WM Span WM Trials WM Span WM Trials WM Span
M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD M SD
1 11.00 2.87 7.15 1.61 10.40 2.98 6.60 1.70 10.44 2.84 6.50 2.01
2 10.19 3.13 6.59 1.93 9.45 2.98 6.35 1.66 11.33 2.14 7.50 1.15
3 12.22 1.90 7.67 0.97
R. G. ALLOWAY & T. P. ALLOWAY
6
span scores, there was no signi cant di erence in performance between
the two times ( F 1, 62 = 0.08; p = .78), nor as a function of group ( F 2, 62 < 1).
However, the interaction was signi cant ( F 2, 62 = 4.26, p = .02, η
2
p = 0.12). Post
hoc analyses indicated that working memory span scores between Ses-
sions 1 and 2 improved signi cantly only for the training group ( p < .05).
For working memory trial scores, there was no signi cant di erence
in performance between the two times ( F 1, 62 < 1), nor as a function of group
( F 2, 62 < 1). However, the interaction was signi cant ( F 2, 62 = 3.05, p = .05, η
2
p =
0.09). Post hoc analyses indicated that working memory trial scores be-
tween Sessions 1 and 2 showed a trend toward signi cance only for the
training group ( p = .09).
The changes in working memory performance between Sessions 1
and 3 were also examined. With respect to working memory span scores,
a multivariate ANOVA (MANOVA) on all three testing sessions indicated
signi cant improvements ( F 3, 15 = 417.66, p < .001, η
2
p = 0.99). Post hoc anal-
yses indicated improvements from Sessions 1 to 3 ( p < .01). An additiona l
MANOVA also indicated improvements in the working memory trials
( F 3, 15 = 318.23, p < .001, η
2
p = 0.99). Post hoc analyses indicated improvements
from Sessions 1 to 3 ( p < .01).
D ISCUSSION
Active, healthy adults who undertook acute, proprioceptively demand-
ing training had improved working memory scores compared to the class-
room and yoga control groups, supporting Hypothesis 2. One possible rea-
son that the training yielded signi cant working memory gains could be that
the training was proprioceptively dynamic , requiring proprioception and at
least one other factor—such as locomotion or navigation—at the same time,
which may have contributed to the improvements in working memory per-
formance.
In contrast, the yoga group who engaged in proprioceptively static pos-
tures did not show working memory improvements (though see Gothe,
Pontifex, Hillman, & McAuley (2013) for improvements in related cognitive
functions, such as attention and inhibition; however, see Oken, Zajdel, Kishi-
yama, Flegal, Dehen, Haas, et al ., 2006 , a large-scale study where participants
underwent yoga training for 6 mo., but did not show improved working
memory). While executing yoga poses requires proprioceptive skills, includ-
ing balance and awareness of joint position ( Paterno, Myer, Ford, & Hewett,
2004 ), the practice is relatively static in comparison, and does not utilize loco-
motion or navigation. Proprioceptively dynamic training may place a great-
er demand on working memory, because as environment and terrain chang-
es the individual recruits working memory to update information to adapt
appropriately. For example, when participants were engaged in propriocep-
tively dynamic activities, such as playing soccer, they had higher cognitive
function (Shubert, et al ., 2009; also Vestberg, et al ., 2012 ).
PROPRIOCEPTION AND WORKING MEMORY 7
One question is how this pattern of ndings t with other research
that has reported cognitive bene ts of yoga practice, especially Hatha
yoga, which is a similar practice to Kripalu yoga used in the present study.
Gothe, et al . (2013) and Gothe, Kramer, & McAuley (2014 ) reported that an
acute period (20 min.) of Hatha yoga improved working memory accura-
cy in their participants. There are numerous ndings indicating that yoga
can improve attention, and given that Gothe, et al . (2013) used a work-
ing memory task that involves attentional control, their improvements are
perhaps not surprising. In contrast, the working memory test used in the
present study has not been linked to attentional control ( Holmes, Hilton,
Place, Alloway, Elliott, & Gathercole, 2014 ).
Another possible reason is that the MovNat activities required both
attention to body position and physical exertion, which may activate the
prefrontal cortex, the neural substrate of working memory ( Bledowski,
Rahm, & Rowe, 2009 ; also Kane & Engle, 2002 ). Suzuki, Miyai, Ono, Oda,
Konishi, Kochiyama, et al . (2004 ) compared activation of the prefrontal
cortex measured by hemoglobin levels in walking and running, and found
that when participants walked on a treadmill they did not show any in-
creases in hemoglobin levels in the prefrontal cortex. However, when
they ran on the treadmill hemoglobin levels signi cantly increased in the
prefrontal cortex. It is possible that the proprioceptive nature of gait and
speed changes may be closely linked to PFC activation.
While both chronic and acute periods of exercise have been found
to improve cognitive functioning ( Colcombe & Kramer, 2003 ; Hillman,
Snook, & Jerome, 2003 , respectively), this pilot study explored the e ect
of proprioceptively demanding training on working memory. Howev-
er, there are some limitations that future research could address. First, it
would be useful to nd out if di erent forms of proprioceptively demand-
ing activities are more e ective for boosting working memory than oth-
ers, such as running or walking along a narrow platform. Second, addi-
tional measures of working memory, including visual-spatial measures,
can be included in future studies. Research shows that spatial movements
are linked to spatial memory ( Baddeley & Lieberman, 1980 ) while focus-
ing on visual stimuli is linked with visual memory ( Quinn & McConnell,
1996 ). By administering such tests, future research can determine if visual-
spatial and verbal working memory improve. An additional concern may
be that the training group comprised of volunteers, which may have in u-
enced the results. Although all three groups were self-selecting, there may
have been di erent motivational in uences, as well as potential age ef-
fects. Future studies could address this concern by assigning participants
to the di erent exercise conditions.
Finally, it would be useful to nd out how long the training needs to
be practiced to yield cognitive bene ts. The present results indicated that
R. G. ALLOWAY & T. P. ALLOWAY
8
2 hr. of training improved working memory scores, but it possible that a
shorter duration can also result in a similar improvement. The issue of
duration and bene ts is important because the shorter the time period re-
quired, the easier it would be to schedule proprioceptively demanding
training into daily activities (though see Oken, et al ., 2006 , for both quality-
of-life and physical improvements resulting from chronic exercise)
In summary, the present study suggests that proprioceptively de-
manding training can improve working memory performance. Given the
importance of working memory in sports ( Maxwell, et al ., 2003 ; Vestberg,
et al ., 2012 ), multitasking ( Watson & Strayer, 2010 ), learning ( Alloway &
Alloway, 2010 ; Alloway, Bibile, & Lau, 2013 ), and mental health ( Levens &
Gotlib, 2010 ), acute periods of such training may provide a working mem-
ory boost across a wide range of activities.
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... Myelinated white matter plays a central role in brain messaging, and likely mediates processing speed, which is an important contributor to working memory performance and fluid intelligence [1]. Working memory allows athletes to integrate and manage multiple proprioceptive-related variables, such as judging distance, appropriate force, and joint alignment [2], which is of vital importance for keeping attention and for decisionmaking processes. Its efficiency varies between individuals and it has been suggested that these differences may play a role in athletic performance [3]. ...
... 1 SNPs excluded from the analysis due to low call rate of the genotyping assay. 2 SNPs analyzed in validation group. ...
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In all sport disciplines, excellent coordination of movements is crucial for achieving mastery. The ability to learn new motor skills quickly and effectively is dependent on efficient myelination which varies between individuals. It has been suggested that these differences may play a role in athletic performance. The process of myelination is under transcriptional control by Myelin Regulatory Factor (MYRF) as well as other transcription factors (SOX10 and OLIG2). We analyze a panel of 28 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) located within the frequencies of common variants of MYRF, SOX10 and OLIG2 genes in professional athletes compared to non-athletes. No significant differences were detected after correction for multiple testing by false discovery rate (FDR) for any of the models tested. However, some deviations from the expected distribution was found for seven SNPs (rs174528, rs139884, rs149435516 and rs2238001, rs7943728, rs61747222, and rs198459). The MYRF alleles rs7943728 and rs61747222 showed a correlation with the level of sport achievement among the athletes. Even though the athletes did not differ from the non-athlete controls in the distribution of most SNPs analyzed, some interesting differences of several variants were noted. Presented results indicate that genetic variants of MYRF and SOX10 could be genetic factors weakly predisposing for successful athletic performance.
... The effects of this intervention on working memory were compared with a yoga and a classroom control in adults aged 18-59 years. 17 Results showed that participants who undertook acute proprioceptively demanding training had increased backward digit span scores following 2 hours of training compared with the classroom and yoga control groups. However, the study was not without its limitations and had self-selecting groups with different exercise exposure durations. ...
... A large effect size on working memory has previously been shown following multimodal proprioceptive exercise. 17 However, given the differences in design, a power calculation was based upon a medium effect size of f = 0.25, which indicated that a total of 19 participants would allow detection of significant effects with a power of 0.8 at 2-sided significant level of .05. A convenience sample of 19 healthy older adults (9 men; mean age = 65 y) completed a within-subject crossover design, taking part in a 20-minute multimodal proprioceptive exercise class, 20 minutes of yoga, and a 20-minute classroom-based control session. ...
Article
Background: Physical activity provides a number of physical and psychological benefits. Multimodal proprioceptive exercise represents a useful balance-based exercise with the potential to reduce falls in older adults. Previous research has also indicated cognitive benefits following multimodal proprioceptive exercise in young and older adults. This study aimed to assess cognition and mood following 2 types of physical activity (multimodal proprioception vs yoga) compared with control (classroom-based) in healthy older adults. Method: Nineteen older adults (Mage = 65, sex = 9 males) participated in this randomized controlled crossover trial. Participants completed a 20-minute multimodal proprioceptive exercise class, 20-minute yoga session, and 20-minute classroom-based control. Numeric working memory and mood were assessed before and immediately following each of the interventions. Results: The multimodal proprioceptive intervention significantly reduced numeric working memory reaction time versus the yoga (P = .043) and control (P = .023) group. There were no differences found for accuracy or mood. Conclusions: These results indicate that multimodal proprioceptive exercise is worthy of further investigation as an alternative mode of exercise alongside the more traditional aerobic and strength-based exercise for healthy older adults.
... Another study by Alloway and Alloway (2015) might provide some insight into the effects of different types of physical activity on specific tasks. The authors found proprioception, the sense of body positioning, to be a significant factor for activities that increased scores on working memory when compared to classroom activities or yoga. ...
... The gains were found in activities that combined proprioception with another factor, such as movement from one place to another, making them "proprioceptively dynamic" (Alloway & Alloway, 2015). Future studies focused on specific types of physical activities along with specific cognitive benefits might provide further clarity for the role of physical activity to cognitive performance. ...
Thesis
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The purpose of this study was to (a) address the problem of declining productivity in the workplace and (b) explore the relationship between leisure-time physical activity and employee performance in knowledge work. Employee engagement was the measure of performance, and nurses were the sample of knowledge workers. This study adds to the research on physical activity and to the research on engagement as indicators and measures of employee performance, as well as provides implications for practice and recommendations for future research. In addition, this study highlights the complexity of variables that must be expanded upon and considered in the quest for a better understanding of the relationship between physical activity and employee performance, as well as factors that must be considered for a sustainable approach to worker health and wellness.
... WM is the ability to process and store information. Throughout the life span, WM capacity mediates outcomes in reasoning tasks (Salthouse, 1993), IQ scores (Conway, Cowan, Bunting, Therriault, & Minkoff, 2002), academic attainment (Alloway & Alloway, 2015;Alloway & Copello, 2013), reading (Siegel, 1994), and even building with Lego blocks (Morrell & Park, 1993). There are several different theoretical models of WM, but a common element is that WM comprises a higher order skill related to the ability to allocate attentional resources despite distraction or interference (Baddeley, 1996;Cowan, 2006;Engle, Tuholski, Laughlin, & Conway, 1999). ...
... One explanation is that barefoot running requires greater proprioception than running shod (Lieberman et al., 2010), and thus can offer greater tactile awareness of the running surface and an enhanced ability to adjust foot strike to a position that is appropriate to the surface. Though physical activities requiring proprioception have been linked to improvements in WM performance, such activities alone may be insufficient to improve WM (Alloway & Alloway, 2015). In the present study, barefoot running in the nontarget condition required proprioception, but it was not sufficient to produce WM gains on Day 2. ...
Article
The aim of the present study was to compare the potential cognitive benefits of running barefoot compared to shod. Young adults (N = 72, M age = 24.4 years, SD = 5.5) ran both barefoot and shod on a running track while stepping on targets (poker chips) and when not stepping on targets. The main finding was that participants performed better on a working memory test when running barefoot compared to shod, but only when they had to step on targets. These results supported the idea that additional attention is needed when running barefoot to avoid stepping on objects that could potentially injure the foot. Significant increases in participant's heart rate were also found in the barefoot condition. No significant differences were found in participants' speed across conditions. These findings suggested that working memory may be enhanced after at least 16 minutes of barefoot running if the individual has to focus attention on the ground.
... The performance of elderly people decreased to a greater extent when they had to do a secondary, cognitively demanding task (i.e., Stroop Task). Also, Alloway and Alloway (2015) found that a proprioceptively demanding training can increase working memory capacity, which supports the idea that proprioceptive processing requires working memory resources. Finally, Yasuda and colleagues (2014) reported that attentional load has an impact on proprioceptive accuracy. ...
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The Joint Position Reproduction test (JPR), one of the most widely used measurements to estimate proprioceptive accuracy, requires the short term storage of proprioceptive information. It has been suggested that visuospatial sketchpad plays a fundamental role in the memorization of proprioceptive information. The current study aimed to investigate this assumption. To do so, we developed and used a novel JPR protocol to measure the retention capacity with respect to sequences of different positions. Our goal was to develop the original task further to make it comparable with other widely used short-term memory measurements, in which the memory capacity was determined by the number of the items participants retain (memory span). We compared participants’ (N=39) performance in this task to that of results of Corsi block-tapping task (capacity of the visuospatial sketchpad) and Digit span task (capacity of the phonological loop). Proprioceptive memory capacity did not correlate either with spatial or verbal memory capacity. The exploratory analysis revealed that proprioceptive span correlated positively with the performance if 5 joint positions had to be retained. Further associations with verbal span for 6 or 7 positions, and spatial span for 5 positions were found. Our findings do not support the idea that visuospatial sketchpad plays a fundamental role in the storage of proprioceptive information. The independence of span measures indicates that proprioceptive information might be stored in a subsystem independent of the visuospatial sketchpad or phonological loop.
... (4) Training skills that indirectly impact on WM: A wide range of activities including martial arts, physical exercise, yoga, mindfulness, music, sports and traditional childhood games can impact on executive function skills including WM (Diamond, 2012;Otero et al., 2014). Other approaches including sensory-based interventions (Worthen, 2010), proprioceptively demanding exercise (Alloway & Alloway, 2015b) and motor skills training (Halperin et al., 2015) have also been suggested as benefitting WM. ...
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It has been suggested that diverse interventions applied within children's everyday contexts have the potential to improve working memory (WM) and produce transfer to real-world skills but little is known about the effectiveness of these approaches. This review aims to examine systematically the effectiveness of non-computerised interventions with 4-11 year olds to identify: (i) their effects on WM; (ii) whether benefits extend to near-and far-transfer measures; (iii) if gains are sustained over time; (iv) the active ingredients; and (v) the optimum dosage. Searches were conducted across 12 electronic databases using consistent keywords. Papers were screened by title and abstract (n = 6212) and judged against pre-defined eligibility criteria (n = 63). Eighteen papers were included in the review. They used a range of non-computerised WM intervention approaches that included: (i) adapting the environment to reduce WM loads; (ii) direct WM training with and without strategy instruction; and (iii) training skills which may indirectly impact on WM (physical activity, phonological awareness, fantastical play and inhibition). Both direct training on WM tasks and practicing certain skills that may impact indirectly on WM (physical activity, fantastical play and inhibition) produced improvements on WM tasks, with some benefits for near-transfer activities. The common ingredient across effective interventions was the executive-loaded nature of the trained task i.e., training on a task that taps into attentional and processing resources under executive control and not just the storage of information. Few studies reported dosage effects, measured far-transfer effects (n = 4), or tested the durability of gains over time (n = 4). The lack of a clear theoretical framework in many of the included studies resulted in ambiguous predictions about training and transfer effects, and inadequate use of outcome measures. Methodological issues also constrain the strength of the evidence, including: small samples sizes; an absence of blinding of participant and outcome assessors; and lack of active control groups. Further well-designed and controlled studies with clear theoretical underpinnings are required to expand and enhance the evidence base. The heterogeneity of the interventions and of the study designs (randomised and non-randomised) in the included papers limited the synthesis of evidence across studies. However, this diversity enabled the identification of key ingredients, notably the training of executive-loaded WM tasks, which can help inform novel approaches to WM intervention in everyday contexts.
... Interestingly, exercise type produces differential effects on cognitive augmentation. Exercise which requires consistent effortful attention (high cognitive engagement-HC) has been associated with improved executive attention performance compared to exercise permitting relaxed attention (low cognitive engagement-LC) [5,6,7,8,9,10]. HC exercise requires constant effortful attention to body positioning in space while executing complex, correctly performed movements. Such exercise includes functional agility, martial arts, soccer, dance, and football. ...
Technical Report
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Exercise has been associated with improvements in attention, memory and metabolic capacity (VO2Max). Variable effects of exercise type on these variables have been seen. A large body of evidence suggests better VO2Max is associated with better cognitive function. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) with two main polymorphisms (alleles), has been shown to effect cognitive capacity via exercise stimuli, and modulates response to exercise. This retrospective cohort study investigated BDNF allele by exercise type. Outcome variables were VO2Max and serum BDNF levels. Preliminary results suggest BDNF allele set affects post-training VO2Max and post-acute exercise bout BDNF serum level similarly by exercise training type. Also, two different exercise types produced different VO2Max and post-acute exercise BDNF serum levels. Each allele type has been associated with variable effects on memory and attention. Further study is necessary to fully characterize BDNF allele effects by exercise type on Airman cognitive and physiological outcomes to facilitate precision exercise prescription and training.
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This paper is based on a fieldwork carried out in a school of São Paulo. It attempts to validate the hypothesis according to which, in schools, social, educational and political questions are intimately linked to spaces and spatial practices through the concept of inhabiting. On the one hand, it shows that the study of school spaces and spatial practices makes it possible to analyze pedagogical choices and relations within the educational community; and, on the other hand, how the spatial planning carried out by this educational community is a major lever of educational change.
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Ce mémoire étudie la fonction cognitive de l'attention et les troubles qui y sont afférents, notamment le Trouble du Déficit de l'Attention/Hyperactivité (TDA/H). Les moyens de capter, développer, et maintenir l'attention des élèves, les répercussions sur la scolarité des enfants victimes de troubles de l'attention, les perturbations sur la vie de la classe, les adaptations pédagogiques les plus pertinentes, sont les objets d'étude principaux de la recherche. A travers six situations d'élèves en école primaire et un stage au collège dans une classe qui accueille des enfants à risque de décrochage (classe Relais), ce travail témoigne des conséquences lourdes du trouble sur la scolarité et l'avenir des enfants atteints et de l'impact du comportement de ces élèves sur le travail des enseignants. Il montre aussi la nécessité de renforcer le dépistage et les prises en charge de ces enfants. The dissertation explores the concept of attention and the connected troubles, especially Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Capture, promote and maintain student attention will be considered, as well as the impact of ADHD children behavior on classrooms and teachers practices. Through six situations of ADHD children in primary school, and an internship in a special classroom for students at early school drop-out risks in secondary school, we confirm the major impact of the trouble for the affected children regarding their school curriculum and later, their professional future. We witness that handling with student inattention and poor behavior is an everyday challenge for teachers, and conclude the need to improve the screening and the care of the concerned children.
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The aim of the present study was to extend previous lifespan research to a wide age range (5 to 80 year olds) and investigate any potential differences in the development and decline of working memory functions. To that end, measures of both verbal and visuo-spatial working memory were included in a cross-sectional study. The findings indicated that there is considerable growth in childhood–on average 23 standard points; with performance peaking in 30-year olds. There was relatively little change in working memory performance in older adults, with 70 to 80 year olds performing at comparable levels to teenagers (13–19 year olds) in verbal working memory tests. Confirmatory factor analyses suggest that working memory skills across the lifespan are driven by domain differences (i.e., verbal or visuo-spatial stimuli), rather than functional differences (maintenance and manipulation of information).
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The purpose of this study was to compare working memory (WM), executive function, academic ability, and problem classroom behaviors in children aged 8–11 years who were either identified via routine screening as having low WM, or had been diagnosed with ADHD. Standardized assessments of WM, executive function and reading and mathematics were administered to 83 children with ADHD, 50 children with low WM and 50 typically developing children. Teachers rated problem behaviors on checklists measuring attention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, oppositional behavior, and difficulties associated with executive function in the classroom. The ADHD and low WM groups had highly similar WM and executive function profiles, but were distinguished in two key respects: children with ADHD had higher levels of rated and observed impulsive behavior, and children with low WM had slower response times. Possible mechanisms for these common and distinct deficits are discussed.
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The relationships among working memory, memory span, and reading skills were studied in 1266 individuals, aged 6-49. They were administered tests of word recognition, pseudoword decoding, reading comprehension, a working memory (listening span) task that required the simultaneous processing of syntax and the recall of linguistic information, and a short-term memory task that required the recall of rhyming or nonrhyming letters presented visually. The results indicated that there is a gradual growth in the development of working memory skills from ages 6 to 19 and a gradual decline after adolescence. The short-term memory task did not show a decline in performance among older individuals. On both of these memory tasks and at most of the age levels, individuals with a reading disability performed at significantly lower levels than individuals with normal reading skills. An important component of the development of reading skills appears to be memory for verbal information. Age-related declines in memory appear to be related to the processing demands of the task, which may affect the degree to which rehearsal strategies are possible within the task.
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Background: Despite an increase in the prevalence of yoga exercise, research focusing on the relationship between yoga exercise and cognition is limited. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of an acute yoga exercise session, relative to aerobic exercise, on cognitive performance. Methods: A repeated measures design was employed where 30 female college-aged participants (Mean age = 20.07, SD = 1.95) completed 3 counterbalanced testing sessions: a yoga exercise session, an aerobic exercise session, and a baseline assessment. The flanker and n-back tasks were used to measure cognitive performance. Results: Results showed that cognitive performance after the yoga exercise bout was significantly superior (ie, shorter reaction times, increased accuracy) as compared with the aerobic and baseline conditions for both inhibition and working memory tasks. The aerobic and baseline performance was not significantly different, contradicting some of the previous findings in the acute aerobic exercise and cognition literature. Conclusion: These findings are discussed relative to the need to explore the effects of other nontraditional modes of exercise such as yoga on cognition and the importance of time elapsed between the cessation of the exercise bout and the initiation of cognitive assessments in improving task performance.
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Research concerned with relations between adult age and working memory is reviewed, especially that relevant to the A. D. Baddeley (e.g., see PA, Vol 79:26150; see also Baddeley & G. J. Hitch, 1974) model of working memory. The evidence suggests that although increased age is associated with lower scores on measures of working memory functioning, many of the age-related influences appear to be mediated by a slower speed of processing. Furthermore, recent studies indicate that slower processing primarily influences the time required to achieve a stable encoding of the information rather than the rate at which information is lost across time or subsequent processing. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of balance training on proprioception and on lower limb injuries. The sample consisted of 100 young soccer players, from four different soccer teams. Two teams were the experimental group, (N = 50), and two the control group (N = 50). During the competition period, the experimental group followed a proprioception training program, 2 times per week, with 20 minute sessions. The frequency and the characteristics of injuries occurred were also recorded. Balance tests on the stability system (Biodex) were performed before and after the competition period. For the balance tests repeated measures Anova was used and the results revealed significant differences between the pre and post training measures for the experimental group. Also, the results revealed an important difference between the experimental and control group in the incidence rate of the injuries. Finally, an important difference was found between the experimental and control group in moderate severity injuries. The application of a specific balance training program on healthy young soccer players can improve their proprioception and prevent low limb injuries.
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Background: Few scientific studies have examined movement-based embodied contemplative practices such as yoga and their effects on cognition. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial was to examine the effects of an 8-week Hatha yoga intervention on executive function measures of task switching and working memory capacity. Methods: Community-dwelling older adults (N = 118; mean age = 62.0) were randomized to one of two groups: a Hatha yoga intervention or a stretching-strengthening control. Both groups participated in hour-long exercise classes 3×/week over the 8-week study period. All participants completed established tests of executive function including the task switching paradigm, n-back and running memory span at baseline and follow-up. Results: Analysis of covariances showed significantly shorter reaction times on the mixed and repeat task switching trials (partial η(2) = .04, p < .05) for the Hatha yoga group. Higher accuracy was recorded on the single trials (partial η(2) = .05, p < .05), the 2-back condition of the n-back (partial η(2) = .08, p < .001), and partial recall scores (partial η(2) = .06, p < .01) of running span task. Conclusions: Following 8 weeks of yoga practice, participants in the yoga intervention group showed significantly improved performance on the executive function measures of working memory capacity and efficiency of mental set shifting and flexibility compared with their stretching-strengthening counterparts. Although the underlying mechanisms need to be investigated, these results demand larger systematic trials to thoroughly examine effects of yoga on executive function as well as across other domains of cognition, and its potential to maintain or improve cognitive functioning in the aging process.
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Given that working memory is an important cognitive skill that is linked to academic success, there is increasing attention given to exploring ways to support working memory problems in struggling students. One promising approach is computerized training, and the aim of the present study focused on whether computerized working memory training could result in both near and far transfer training effects; and whether such effects would be maintained over time. Students were allocated into one of three groups: Nonactive Control, Active Control, where they trained once a week (WMT-Low frequency); Training group, where they trained four times a week (WMT-High frequency). All three groups were tested on measures of working memory, verbal and nonverbal ability, and academic attainment before training; and re-tested on the same measures after training, as well as 8 months later. The data indicate gains in both verbal and visuo-spatial working memory tasks for the high-frequency Training group. Improvements were also evidenced in tests of verbal and nonverbal ability tests, as well as spelling, in the high-frequency Training group. There were some maintenance effects when students were tested 8 months later. Possible reasons for why the computerized working memory training led to some far transfer effects in the high-frequency Training group are included in the discussion.