Summary: Study reveals both aerobic exercise and standing in an upright posture improves visual working memory.
A new British Journal of Psychology study has looked at the details behind how cognitive performance may improve during aerobic exercise.
Electroencephalography readings were taken as 24 participants performed a visual working memory task while at rest and during exercise involving different postures: seated on or pedalling a stationary bicycle, as well as standing or walking on a treadmill. (Visual working memory is the ability to maintain visual information to serve the needs of ongoing tasks.)
The investigators found that both aerobic exercise and upright posture improved visual working memory compared with passive and seated conditions. Their analyses also suggest where the neural origins of these observed effects take place.
“Our findings hold implications not only for the field of cognitive psychology, wherein our knowledge has been primarily derived from seated, resting participants, but also for our understanding of cognitive performance at large. Although modern society has evolved to become more and more sedentary, our brains may nevertheless perform best while our bodies are active,” said lead author Dr. Thomas Töllner, of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich.
Source: Penny Smith – Wiley
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Open access research for “Electroencephalographic evidence for improved visual working memory performance during standing and exercise” by Gordon Dodwell, Hermann J. Müller, and Thomas Töllner in British Journal of Psychology. Published October 12 2018.
Electroencephalographic evidence for improved visual working memory performance during standing and exercise
While a substantial body of research has investigated the effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance, few have monitored exercise‐concurrent cognitive processes via electroencephalography and fewer still using an event‐related potential (ERP) approach. As such, little is known regarding how the temporal dynamics of cognitive processing are influenced during aerobic activity. Here, we aimed to elucidate the influence of aerobic exercise on the temporal dynamics of concurrent visual working memory (VWM) performance. Participants performed a VWM retro‐cue task at rest and during aerobic exercise across two postural modalities: seated (using a stationary bicycle) and standing upright (using a treadmill). Three consecutive phases of the VWM processing pipeline were assessed by means of lateralized ERPs: access of VWM representations, response selection, and response execution. Aerobic exercise and upright posture were found to have significant effects on VWM performance, facilitating processing speed in the retro‐cue task. This facilitation arose primarily at an intermediary stage between the phases of accessing VWM representations and response selection. Our findings hold implications not only for understanding the influence of aerobic activity on VWM, but also for contemporary models of VWM that are built exclusively on data recorded during stationary, seated conditions.