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27-06-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2016

Psychological Research 4/2016

An acute bout of aerobic exercise can protect immediate offline motor sequence gains

Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2016
Joohyun Rhee, Jing Chen, Steven M. Riechman, Atul Handa, Sanjeev Bhatia, David L. Wright


The present study examined the efficacy of a short bout of moderately intensive exercise to protect knowledge of a newly acquired motor sequence. Previous work revealed that sleep-dependent offline gains in motor sequence performance are reduced by practicing an alternative motor sequence in close temporal proximity to the original practice with the target motor sequence. In the present work, a brief bout of exercise was inserted at two different temporal locations between practice of a to-be-learned motor sequence and the interfering practice that occurred 2 h later. At issue was whether exposure to exercise could reduce the impact of practice with the interfering task which was expected to be manifest as reemergence of offline gain observed in the case in which the learner is not exposed to the interfering practice. Acute exercise did influence the interfering quality of practice with an alternative motor sequence resulting in the return of broad offline gain. However, this benefit was immediate, emerging on the initial test trial, only when exercise was experienced some time after the original period of motor sequence practice and just prior to practice with the interfering motor sequence. Thus, while exercise can contribute to post-practice consolidation, there appears to be a fragile interplay between spontaneous memory consolidation occurring after task practice and the consolidation processes induced via exercise.

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