If you’re a student with a rusty memory, that may spell many troubles for you, including plummeting grades and failed exams.
But don’t worry; according to a new research, there’s something you can do to improve your ability to retain new information and improve your long-term memory: all you need to do is work out four hours after you study.
People who do this trick tend to have better memory recall 48 hours later, say experts from the Donders Institute in the Radboud University Medical Center, Netherlands. But you must wait four hours, say researchers; otherwise, it doesn’t have any impact on memory retention.
For the study, researchers asked the 72 participants to complete a 40-minute task; they were required to look at 90 images and remember the associated locations. The images were of common objects placed in one of six locations on a computer screen.
Then, the participants were separated into three groups: one that worked out as soon as they finished the task, one that exercised four hours after the task, and one that did not perform any physical activity at all.
For the first two groups, the team provided an ergometer for completing 35 minutes of interval training. Two days after the experiment, participants were called back for a memory recall test, which evaluated the amount of information they still remembered.
During the test, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) so they could measure the brain activity. It showed that the participants who worked out after four hours after the learning task had a better memory recall, compared with the group that exercised immediately after.
On the other hand, the participants who did not work out at all performed second-best. According to the co-author of the study Guillén Fernández, Professor at the Donders Institute, they are yet unsure why people who immediately exercise did not have a better performance that than those who were completely inactive.
On one hand, physical activity releases and dopamine, two neurotransmitters in the brain that help enhance memory. On the other, working out immediately after studying might get in the way of the studied information because it prompts the brain to focus on the formation of new memories.
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