Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Poorer Aerobic Fitness Relates to Reduced Integrity of Multiple Memory Systems

Academic journal article Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience

Poorer Aerobic Fitness Relates to Reduced Integrity of Multiple Memory Systems

Article excerpt

Published online: 4 March 2014

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Epidemiological investigations have revealed increases in the prevalence of sedentary behaviors in industrialized societies. However, the implications of those lifestyle choices and related cardiorespiratory fitness levels for memory function are not well-understood. To determine the extent to which cardiorespiratory fitness relates to the integrity of multiple memory systems, a cross-sectional sample of young adults were tested over the course of 3 days in areas related to implicit memory, working memory, long-termmemory, and aerobic fitness. Findings revealed an association between aerobic fitness and memory function such that individuals with lower cardiorespiratory fitness exhibited poorer implicit memory performance and poorer long-term memory retention. These data indicate that cardiorespiratory fitness may be important for the optimal function of neural networks underlying these memory systems.

Keywords Basal ganglia . Cognitive control . Neural network . Workingmemory . Longterm memory . Implicit memory

Over the past several decades, individuals within industrialized societies have begun to lessen their engagement in physically active lifestyles while increasing consumption of energy-dense foods (Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] and Department of Education [DOE], 2000). Accordingly, epidemiological investigations have suggested that a reduction in energy expenditure coupled with increased caloric consumption has resulted in an increase in the prevalence of several diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and type-2 diabetes (DHHS and DOE, 2000). Such diseases have also been found to be independently related to aerobic fitness (i.e., the ability to sustain aerobic physical activities; DHHS, 2008). Yet beyond these effects on physical health, a growing body of research has begun to elucidate the detrimental effects that a lack of chronic physical activity and decreased aerobic fitness has on brain health and cognition (see Hillman, Erickson, & Kramer, 2008, for a review).

Indeed, converging evidence across both human and animal models suggests that high-level cognitive systems such as memory may be sensitive to levels of aerobic fitness and physical activity. In rodent models, wheel-running has been associated with increases in neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus (van Praag, Kempermann, & Gage, 1999) and enhancements in hippocampal-dependent learning and memory processes (Vaynman, Ying, & Gomez-Pinilla, 2004). Similarly, research in both preadolescent children and older adults has shown that poorer aerobic fitness relates to lower relational memory performance and smaller hippocampal volume (Chaddock et al., 2010a; Erickson et al., 2009). Indeed, aerobic exercise interventions have resulted in improvements in hippocampaldependent relational memory in preadolescent children (Monti, Hillman, & Cohen, 2012) and reversal of age-related hippocampal volume loss in older adults (Erickson et al., 2011). More broadly, Smith and colleagues (2010) conducted ameta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials suggesting a modest relationship (Hedges's g = 0.128) between aerobic exercise and declarative memory assessed using a wide range of tasks. Avast body of literature suggests that formation and retention of declarative memory is dependent on the hippocampus (see Squire, 1992, for a review). Indeed, recent evidence suggests that memory for declarative information is consolidated (i.e., is strengthened and shows increased resistance to interference or decay; McGaugh, 2000) after initial acquisition, potentially through a process of neuronal reactivation of information during waking or sleep (Carr, Jadhav,&Frank, 2011; Dave&Margoliash, 2000; Ji & Wilson, 2007; Louie & Wilson, 2001; Wilson & McNaughton, 1994). Although there is strong evidence for a relationship between cardiovascular fitness and declarativememory ability, the vast majority of these investigations have focused on older adult populations (Smith et al. …

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