To improve your memory, get moving ... or take a nap

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Enhancing Memory – Break Sweat/Take Nap


New secrets have been revealed by scientists for enhancing memory retention one of which involves breaking sweat while the other is taking a nap. According to a small study published in the journal Current Biology this month, four hours of exercise on learning something could improve your memory. Working out regularly has been linked with improvement of memory as well as the thinking skills.

As per co-author of the study and professor of cognitive neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in the Netherlands, Guillen Fernandez, the latest discovery tends to provide a precise time window in taking an important advantage of this association. Besides this, Fernandez has stated that it could lead to further studies augmenting the delay as well as the intensity of post-learning exercise for the purpose of great study achievement which could be applicable for education.

In other words the study tends to support the idea that after-school sports could assist students to retain what has been learnt in the classroom. Around 72 men and women completed a task for the study, wherein they observed 90 photos appear one after the other on a screen for around 40 minutes.

Participants Tested – Hooked to MRI Scanner


The participants were then instructed to recall precisely where on the screen the pictures had appeared. Thereafter, the participants were segregated into three groups wherein one group exercised instantly on completing the task. The second group exercised four hours on completion of the task while the third did not attempt to exercise at all.

The group which had exercised had participated in a 35-minute interval training session on an exercise bike. Two days thereafter, all the participants had completed a test measuring on how well they had recalled the picture location, which was done while they were hooked up to an MRI scanner.

It was observed that exercising following the learning of the picture locations had no effect on memory retention, though waiting four hours resulted in a 10% increase on an average in memory retention. Besides this, the MRI scans also showed that during the memory test, those who exercised after a period of few hours had increased activity in the hippocampus of their brain, which is a region linked with learning and memory.

Sleep Assist in Transforming Short-Term Memories – Long Term Memories


Fernandez has stated that they have no conclusive answer for the immediate exercise not enhancing the memory. However he added that a follow-up study was underway for examining the influence that exercise has on memory in great detail. Other studies have indicated that sleeping immediately after learning something could also be helpful in remembering.

Sara Mednick, professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside has stated that `sleep tends to assist in transforming short-term memories into long term memories by helping in making stronger connections between the new experiences and old memories which enables the new experience to be integrated with our general knowledge and understanding of the world’.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, this month, the Mednick led research tends to define the role of the autonomic nervous system of the body that plays during sleep in memory consolidation. It is a process which several earlier thought was the work of the central nervous system.

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