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20.30: Exercise and Memory

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    Learning Objectives

    • To study the benefits of exercise on memory

    Research conducted by

    M. E. Hopkins, F. C. Davis, M. R. Van Tieghem, P. J. Whalen, and D. J. Bucci

    Case study prepared by

    Robert F. Houser and Georgette Baghdady


    Physical exercise has many beneficial effects on physiological processes, including those that affect cognition and memory. Exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a protein found in the learning and memory centers of the brain where it supports nerve cell survival and the growth of new neurons and neuronal connections. A polymorphism of BDNF (a variant genotype) alters the release of BDNF during exercise. The researchers of this study sought to compare the effects of a single bout of exercise versus a \(4\)-week exercise regimen on cognition and memory and to determine if BDNF genotype influences the intensity of those effects of exercise.

    Questions to Answer

    How do regular exercise and/or an acute bout of exercise affect cognitive memory? Does type of BDNF genotype (Val/Val or Met carrier) mediate the effect of exercise on memory? How do we calculate a one-way ANOVA by hand and how do different post-hoc tests compare?

    Design Issues

    The group sample sizes are small, perhaps limiting the power to detect significant differences between the four exercise/control groups.

    Descriptions of Variables

    Table \(\PageIndex{1}\): Description of Variables
    Variable Description
    Group 0W-: sedentary group
    0W+: sedentary group with one bout of exercise at least 2 hours before Visit 2
    4W-: regularly exercising group
    4W+: regularly exercising group with a bout of exercise at least 2 hours before Visit 2


    The percentage of objects each group accurately identified as old or new when performing the novel object recognition task during each study visit
    Difference score Accuracy achieved by the subject in the novel object recognition task during Visit 2 minus accuracy during Visit 1, in percent
    BDNF genotype Whether a subject's BDNF genotype is Val/Val or Met carrier (Val/Met and Met/Met)

    How Exercise Affects the Brain: Age and Genetics Play a Role



    • Hopkins, M. E., Davis, F. C., Van Tieghem, M. R., Whalen, P. J., Bucci, D. J. (2012). Differential effects of acute and regular physical exercise on cognition and affect. Neuroscience, 215, 59-68.

    This page titled 20.30: Exercise and Memory is shared under a Public Domain license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Lane via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.