The protective effects of acute cardiovascular exercise on the interference of procedural memory

  • J. S. Jo
  • J. Chen
  • S. Riechman
  • M. Roig
  • D. L. WrightEmail author
Original Article


Numerous studies have reported a positive impact of acute exercise for procedural skill memory. Previous work has revealed this effect, but these findings are confounded by a potential contribution of a night of sleep to the reported exercise-mediated reduction in interference. Thus, it remains unclear if exposure to a brief bout of exercise can provide protection to a newly acquired motor memory. The primary objective of the present study was to examine if a single bout of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise after practice of a novel motor sequence reduces the susceptibility to retroactive interference. To address this shortcoming, 17 individuals in a control condition practiced a novel motor sequence that was followed by test after a 6-h wake-filled interval. A separate group of 17 individuals experienced practice with an interfering motor sequence 45 min after practice with the original sequence and were then administered test trials 6 h later. One additional group of 12 participants was exposed to an acute bout of exercise immediately after practice with the original motor sequence but prior to practice with the interfering motor sequence and the subsequent test. In comparison with the control condition, increased response times were revealed during the 6-h test for the individuals that were exposed to interference. The introduction of an acute bout of exercise between the practice of the two motor sequences produced a reduction in interference from practice with the second task at the time of test, however, this effect was not statistically significant. These data reinforce the hypothesis that while there may be a contribution from exercise to post-practice consolidation of procedural skills which is independent of sleep, sleep may interact with exercise to strengthen the effects of the latter on procedural memory.


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

David L. Wright declares that he has no conflict of interest. J. S. Jo declares that he has no conflict of interest. J. Chen declares that he has no conflict of interest. S. Riechman declares that he has no conflict of interest. M. Roig declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board at Texas A&M University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. S. Jo
    • 1
  • J. Chen
    • 1
  • S. Riechman
    • 1
  • M. Roig
    • 2
    • 3
  • D. L. Wright
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Laboratory, Department of KinesiologyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Medicine, School of Physical and Occupational TherapyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Memory and Motor Rehabilitation Laboratory (MEMORY-LAB), Feil and Oberfeld Research Centre, Jewish Rehabilitation HospitalMontreal Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR)MontrealCanada

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