Memory is the capacity to recall information one has experienced or learned. Many people struggle with remembering events which they have experienced or previously had information on. Students are particularly aware of this fact because they are constantly tested on what they can remember from previous class work. Today, research indicates that there is a noticeable shrink in the hippocampus during late adulthood, which leads to impaired memory, as well as a heightened risk for dementia. However, fitter adults who undertake physical activity have larger medial and hippocampal temporal lobes (der Borght, Havekes, Bos, Eggen, & Zee, 2007). According to Erickson et al (2010), the deterioration of the hippocampus leads to the impairment of memory. In recent times, strategies to fight against hippocampal loss and reduce memory impairment. Experiments conducted on rodents indicate that exercises enhance learning and increases retention, which comes with improved hippocampal cell proliferation and survival. This research is interesting for me because the idea of improving memory through exercise presents many possibilities for me as a student as well as for research which would be uses to reduce the detrimental effects associated with dementia and memory loss. This research examines how exercise improves memory for children.
According to Chapman, Aslan, Spence, Defina, Keebler, Didehbani, et al. (2013), physical exercise, especially aerobic exercise has been documented to give a low expense regimen to counteract cognitive decline such as memory loss, visual-spatial skills, processing speed and executive function in normally aging adults. Chapman, Aslan, Spence, Defina, Keebler, Didehbani, et al. (2013) identify that only long-term effects of exercise have been investigated while study short term effects remain unexplored. They examine changes in the flow of blood, fitness and cognition in thirty-seven cognitively healthy sedentary adults between the ages of 57 and 75. These adults were randomly selected and allocated either to the physical exercise training or the control group. The physical exercise group undertook 3 one-hour sessions every week for 12 weeks. Assessment of their resting, cognitive and cardiovascular cerebral blood flow (CBF) was done at the baseline (T1), T2 (mid), and T3 (post-training). The studies showed higher CBF in the physical exercise training group members’ anterior cingulate region relative to the members of the control group from baseline (T1) to T3. There were cognitive gains in the exercise training group’s improved immediate as well as delayed memory performance from baseline to T3. This is associated with increases in blood flow on both sides of the hippocampus. The study by Chapman, Aslan, Spence, Defina, Keebler, Didehbani, et al. (2013) sheds light on ways that physical exercise promotes cognitive health in aging.
According to Erickson et al (2010), the hippocampus becomes smaller in late adulthood. This may be associated with cognitive deterioration such as the loss of memory and dementia. Erickson et al (2010) indicates that aerobic exercises increase hippocampal volume. In their research, Erickson et al (2010) conducted controlled trials on 120 older adults (who do not have dementia) and showed that exercise training raised the hippocampal volume by approximately 2%. This effectively resulted in the reversal of age-related volume loss by a degree of 1 to 2y. The research further indicated that increased hippocampal volume may be linked to increased serum levels of BDNF, which is a mediator in neurogenesis for the dentate gyrus. In the control group, hippocampal volume decreased but the decline was partially attenuated by higher pre-intervention fitness. The research indicates that the shrinkage of the hippocampus increases the risk of cognitive impairment. This was consistent with the results of the stretching control group, which indicated a 1.4% decrease in volume. Notable, however, is the fact that while aerobic exercise led to the increase of anterior hippocampus size, it had little observable impact on the posterior hippocampus (Ahmadiasl, Alaei, & Hänninen, 2003). One obvious observation from the existing literature is that there is a research gap. It is apparent that studies on the effect of anaerobic exercises on memory and cognition have focused primarily on people from the age of 50 onwards and neglected an examination of children. Only few researches, such as that by Fritz, Drakas, Rashid, Schmitt, & King, (2010), examines the effect of physical exercise on school children in relation to their academic performance. Because school-going children are always being tested on their ability to commit knowledge to memory through examinations, there is a need to examine the impact of exercise on them. This may have implications on the way teachers and parents view children involvement with sports.
My idea for an experiment involves having a group of students involved in aerobic exercises for a period of time while another group remains uninvolved in sports of any exercise (control). The students will then be tested three times for memory and cognitive ability at the start of the test period, at the middle and the end. Similarly the two group of teenagers will be tested for cerebral blood flow (CBF) levels.
Purpose of the study
The purpose is to determine how exercise improves memory in teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16. The research review indicates a gap in research. Most of the research in this area is centered on determining the effect of physical exercise on the memory of middle-aged to aged people. However, the idea of this research is to investigate whether there are physical exercise-related variations in short-term memory and cognition for teenage children between the age of 13 and 16. The study will involve selecting a sample of 70 students between the ages of 13 and 16 from a school. The criteria will be to get students who are not cognitively challenged and who do not regularly engage in sports or exercises. These students will then be randomly divided into two groups. One of the groups will be used for the exercises while the other group will be the control group. The physical exercises group will undertake 4 forty-five minute sessions every week for a duration of three months. At the beginning of week 1, the cardiovascular fitness, cognitive and resting CBF will be a measure and also at the beginning of week 7 and the end of week 12. The results will be analyzed statistically to indicate whether there are any clear indications of change in cognitive ability, cardiovascular fitness of CBF between week 1, week 7 and week 12. The results of the exercise group will be compared with the control group to determine whether there are any clear distinctions, which may indicate a relationship between exercise and changes in memory and cognitive ability. The results and analysis will then be compared to previous studies and the literature review and inferences will be drawn from these results. The significance is that it may have implications which may change the perceptions of policy-makers, parents, teachers and students regarding the role of athletics and involvement in sports in academics performance and general health of students.
Ahmadiasl, N., Alaei, H., & Hänninen, O. (2003). Effect of Exercise on Learning, Memory and Levels of Epinephrine in Rats’ Hippocampus. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 2(5), 106-109.
Chapman, S. B., Aslan, S., Spence, J. S., Defina, L. F., Keebler, M. W., Didehbani, N., et al. (2013). Shorter term aerobic exercise improves brain, cognition, and cardiovascular fitness in aging. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 5(75), 1-10.
Erickson, K. I., Mcauley, E., Heo, S., Kim, J. S., Chaddock, L., Szabo, A., et al. (2011). Exercise training increases size of hippocampus and improves memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(7), 3017-3022.
Fritz, K., Drakas, E., Rashid, N., Schmitt, T., & King, G. (2010). Effects of Moderate Aerobic Exercise on Memory Retention and Recall. Medical Sciences Center University of Wisconsin - Madison, 3(2), 1-23.
Der Borght, K. V., Havekes, R., Bos, T., Eggen, B. J., & Van der Zee, E. A. (2007). Exercise Improves Memory Acquisition and Retrieval In the Y-maze Task: Relationship with Hippocampal Neurogenesis.. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121(2), 324-334.