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Immediate effects of an acute bout of exercise on working memory tasks in young adults

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By Katherine C. Quintus
Chairperson: Geeta Shivde, Ph.D.
Research on the effect exercise has on cognitive functions, in particular higher
mental processes such as executive function and memory, has yielded inconsistent
results. The purpose o f this study was to determine if a short bout o f physical exercise
had an immediate effect o f performance on working memory tasks in college
Participants (n=55, male = 22, female = 33, mean age = 18.7 years old) were
randomly assigned to one o f three exercise groups (baseline, light, and moderate).
Individuals in the light and moderate exercise groups performed a 10-min exercise task
on a cylco ergom eter (at a target heart rate zone) between pre and post testing, while
individuals in the baseline (control) group were given a 10 minute filler task between pre
and post testing. W orking memory was assessed using a letter span task developed to
measures phonological loop capacity, as well as an Operation Span (OSpan) task
focusing on an individual’s ability to briefly store information while completing
additional cognitive tasks. Self-report o f perceived arousal, mood state, as well as
perceived exertion was also gathered.
Results o f this study revealed no significant interaction between exercise level and
time o f test on either the OSpan task or the letter span task. However, significant overall
main effects o f tim e o f test were found on OSpan total scores and letter span task scores.
A significant m ain effect o f levels o f exercise was also found on participant’s perceived
arousal scores. Although results o f the study did not show a significant interaction
between level o f exercise and time on the change in simple span or Ospan scores from
before to after the exercise session, further analysis suggested that exercise might help
improve working memory performance.
A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment o f the Requirements
for the Degree o f Master o f Arts
in Psychology.
W est Chester University o f Pennsylvania
ProQ uest Number: 10157086
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Katherine C. Quintus
Approval o f Thesis
Master o f Arts Degree
Geeta Shivde, PhD, Chairperson
V. Krishna Kumar, PhD
Thomas Treadwell, EdD
Janet S. Hickman, EdD
Interim Dean, Graduate Studies &
Extended Education
I would like to thank my thesis advisor Dr. Geeta Shivde for the guidance and
support throughout my thesis project. This thesis would not have been possible without
your feedback, suggestions and constant encouragement. I would also like to extend my
thanks to Dr. V. Krishna Kumar and Dr. Tom Treadwell for serving on my thesis
committee and for their input and guidance in the completion o f my thesis.
A special thank you to Dr. John Williams in the Kinesiology department for all
his input and assistance. Also to the Graduate Assistants in the Exercise Science Lab,
thank you for the help you provided in so many ways.
M ost importantly, thank you to my family - Mom, Dad, and Nick - for the lifelong
motivation, support, and love that has lead me to where I am today. To Michael, your
encouragement and continuous positive words have meant more to me throughout this
project than you will ever know.
CHAPTER 1................................................................................................................................ 1
IN TROD UCTIO N........................................................................................................1
CHAPTER II.............................................................................................................................. 15
M ETHOD S....................................................................................................................15
PARTICIPAN TS..........................................................................................................15
M EASURES................................................................................................................. 15
PROCEDURES............................................................................................................. 19
CHAPTER III.............................................................................................................................. 27
RESU LTS....................................................................................................................... 27
CHAPTER IV .............................................................................................................................. 33
DISCUSSION............................................................................................................... 33
APPENDIX A: Flyer for Exercise Portion o f Study...........................................................45
APPENDIX B: Flyer for Baseline (Control) Session......................................................... 47
APPENDIX C: Procedure List - Exercise G roups............................................................. 49
APPENDIX D: Procedure List - Baseline G roup...................................................................51
APPENDIX E: Informed Consent..............................................................................................53
APPENDIX F: Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire..................................................55
APPENDIX G: Basic Demographics and Physical Activity Q uestionnaire.......................58
APPENDIX H: B org’s Rate o f Perceived Exertion Scale..................................................... 61
APPENDIX I: Perceived Arousal Scale................................................................................... 63
APPENDIX J: Letter Span Tasks.............................................................................................. 65
APPENDIX K: D isclaim er..........................................................................................................68
Table Title____________________________________________
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on Perceived Arousal Scores........29
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on Letter Span Scores.................... 30
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on OSpan Total Scores..................31
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on OSpan Absolute Scores........... 32
Physical exercise is beneficial, not only to the body but also to the mind. Federal
governm ent health guidelines have noted the importance of physical exercise for the
longevity and for the quality of life (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
1996). Physical activity level in adults has been shown to positively affect their general
mental well being, and reduce anxiety and depression (Dubbert, 2002). Physical exercise
is a good way to keep the mind active and functioning more efficiently (Clarkson-Smith
& Hartley, 1989).
Extensive research shows that physical activity has an effect on an individual’s
cognitive functioning. However, the results from this research vary to a great degree,
with some finding positive effects, others a negative effect, and still others no significant
effects. There are several possible factors that could contribute to the variation in results.
The studies differ in the type of physical activity, its duration and intensity, and how it is
measured (Arcelin & Brisswalter, 1999). The studies also differ on cognitive functions
measured (Tomporowski & Ellis, 1986; Brisswalter, Durand, Delignieres, & Legros,
1995). For example, Tomporowsk, Davis, Lambourne, Gregoski and Tkacz (2008) found
physical activity had no influence on children’s switch task performance, but Hillman,
Buck, Themanson, Pontifex, and Castelli (2006) found physical activity resulted in an
improved reaction time on an interference task.
Etnier, Salazar, Landers, Petruzzelo, Han and N ow ell’s (1997) examined 106
different studies in a meta-analysis. The studies included in the meta-analysis used
various cognitive tasks, including (but not limited to) reaction time, comprehension tests,
the W echsler M emory Scale, the Stroop test and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test.
Although a variety of cognitive tasks were used, these tasks fell into some core categories:
memory, mathematical ability, verbal ability, reasoning, creativity, academic
achievement, IQ, reaction time, perception, mental age, motor skills, and dual task
paradigms (Etnier et al., 1997).
Many studies have used self report questionnaires to assess an individual’s overall
physical activity levels as opposed to actually manipulating physical activity as an
independent variable. Due to the use of self-report, measurement of physical activity
level may be inaccurate. The lapse of time between the physical activity performance
and the measure of cognitive function also may have contributed to varying results.
Some studies assessed an individual’s performance on a cognitive task during a bout of
physical activity, others assessed performance on cognitive task before and after a
physical activity session, and some researchers correlated an individual’s overall physical
fitness level with an individual’s overall cognitive performance (Coles & Tomprowski,
2008; Field, Diego & Sanders, 2001; Sibley & Beilock, 2007; Yu, Chan, Cheng, Sung, &
Hau, 2006; Verrel, Schellenbach, Lovden, Schaefer, & Lindenberger, 2009).
Etnier et al. (1997) discovered that environment also had an effect on the results
of the studies. Their analysis showed significantly larger effect sizes in studies that
involved exercise in classroom or laboratory settings as opposed to a hospital, fitness
center, or other settings.
Tomporowski and Ellis (1986) summarized results of studies as follows: a
positive relationship between exercise and cognitive function, a negative relationship
between the two, both a negative and positive relationship, or else no relationship found.
Etnier et al.’s (1997) meta-analysis reported an overall effect size of a 0.25 suggesting a
small but positive effect of exercise on cognition.
Age plays a role on the effects of exercise on cognitive functions. Due to agerelated cognitive disorders such as Alzheim er’s disease and Dementia, much of the
research in the area of exercise and cognition has focused on older adults. Research on
youth has typically centered on correlations of physical exercise (assessed in physical
education classes) and academic achievement (Martin & Chalmers, 2007; Castelli,
Hillman, Buck, & Erwin, 2007; Yu et al., 2006).
There have been a number of studies looking at the effects of exercise and
physical activity level on cognitive functioning among older adults. Colcombe and
Kramer (2003) conducted a meta-analysis on studies conducted on adults 55-80 years of
age. They looked at the various cognitive tasks used in measuring the effects of exercise
on cognitive processes, and focused on the following four: speed of response,
visuospatial functions, controlled processing, and executive control. They found that
fitness training increased cognitive performance in sedentary adults, regardless of the
type of cognitive task employed. The largest benefits from exercise were found in the
area of executive control processes.
Studies of older adults have focused on the long term effects of physical activity
on cognition, as well as prevention of degenerative brain disease, whereas studies on
school-age youth have focused on the correlation between physical activity levels and
overall academic achievement (Kramer, Hahn, & McAuley, 2000; Martin & Chalmers,
2007; Castelli et al., 2007; Yu et al., 2006). The population chosen for this current study
was young adults (18-25), because less is known about the effects of exercise on
cognition in this particular population. The following sections give an overview of the
effects of exercise on cognition across various age groups.
Studies Looking at the Effects o f Exercise on Cognition
Correlation o f cognitive function with overall level o f physical activity. ClarksonSmith and Hartley (1989) addressed the relationship between exercise and cognitive
ability, in older adults. Their sample consisted of 300 individuals between the ages of 55
and 91. From this sample, they took the most active and the least active individuals and
placed them in a high exercise and low exercise groups, respectively. All participants
were tested on vocabulary, measures of working memory, and measures of reaction time
during the first session. In the second session, participants underwent three written tests
of reasoning and two subjective well-being questionnaires. Results showed that the
performance in the high exercise group was superior to that of the low exercise group in
all areas of cognition: reaction time, working memory, and reasoning ability. W eingarten
(1973) also looked at various cognitive functions, and found that exercise and overall
fitness level had a positive impact on complex cognitive task performance, whereas no
impact on simple cognitive task performance.
Effects o f exercise on a simultaneous cognitive task. The dual task paradigm
involves a physical or mechanical task that is performed simultaneously with a controlled
cognitive task of varying intensity (Brisswalter et al., 1995). It is assumed that when the
subject focuses on the primary task, the performance on the secondary task may suffer
due to the higher demand of attention required for the primary task.
Brisswalter et al. (1995) measured the effect of varying pedal rates matched for
aerobic power output on energy expenditure and cognitive performance. Participants
underwent a 3-phase experiment over the course of 8 days. Bach of the phases consisted
of cyclo ergometer sessions testing physical exertion levels. The first test required
complete exertion to the point of exhaustion and V 0 2 was measured. The other 2 tests
were partial maximum exertion rides at varying pedal rates, each selected to represent
50% of the power output that was obtained in phase one, V 0 2 max. Pedaling was
identical for phases 2 and 3; however in the third phase participants were presented with
cognitive tasks prior to the exercise and throughout the pedaling session. Results showed
no significant variation of pedal rate when the reaction time task was performed.
However, reaction time at rest was significantly shorter than it was in the various stages
performed during phase 3. This decrease in performance in the secondary task was
attributed to the shift from single reaction time task to the dual pedaling and reaction time
tasks (Brisswalter et al., 1995).
Brisswalter, Arcelin, Audhfren, and Delignilres (1997) conducted an experiment
exam ining the effects physical activity and energy expenditure had on a simple reaction
task performed concurrently during exercise. Results were similar to Brisswalter et al.
(1995), performance on a simple decisional task suffered while simultaneously being
engaged in a physical activity. Research on the dual task paradigm supports the findings
of a decrease on the secondary task during dual task performance due to the focus on the
primary task. Due to these findings, we chose not to use a simultaneous task design in
the current experiment.
Immediate Effects o f Physical Activity on Cognitive Functions
Reaction Time and Response Accuracy. Reaction time is believed to be an
important indicator of the useful reliability of the central nervous system. In other words,
faster reaction time on cognitive tasks is regarded as overall indications of an efficient
functioning of cognitive abilities measured by those tasks (Bunce & Birdi, 1998;
Brisswalter et al., 1997).
Bunce and Birdi (1998) looked at age and fitness interactions on reaction time
tasks. They exam ined whether aerobic fitness moderates performance on reaction time
tasks at different ages and task complexity. The study included subjects between the ages
of 22 and 64. Body mass, body fat, lung function, and forced vital capacity were
measured to derive a composite fitness measure. Two and four choice reaction time tasks
were used to assess reaction time. Finally, a tapping task was used to assess speed of
motor functioning. Results showed that more physically fit individuals performed better
on the motor and speeded cognitive tasks (Bunce & Birdi, 1998).
The number of choices given in a reaction task could affect the performance on
the task. In the above study, results showed slower reaction to the 4 choice tasks, which
were reported as being much more demanding and difficult then tasks with fewer choices
(Bunce & Birdi, 1998). Gutin (1972) proposed that the complexity of the cognitive task
would have an effect on the overall results. He further suggested that with reaction time
measures, the num ber of choices would be inversely related to the optimal level of
exercise-induced arousal (Gutin, 1972).
It is believed that a key determinant of cognitive performance is the efficiency of
oxygen delivery to the brain. Therefore, some researchers suggest that a free recall
memory task may be affected by the competing demands on physiological resources
dependent on blood-oxygen level. To further test this idea Bunce, Hays, and Pring (2004)
evaluated performance on a free recall task in a group of 56 healthy young adult females,
some of whom were smokers. Bunce et al.’s study contrasted performance in individuals
who were smokers or non-smokers and engaged in aerobic exercise to smoking and non­
smoking non-active individuals. Individuals who reported smoking a minimum of 10
cigarettes per day for at least 2 years were included in the study. The exercise groups
consisted of individuals who perform aerobic exercise at least 6 hours a week, and have
done so for a minimum of 2 years (2004).
In Bunce et al.’s study, two word lists consisting of 16 words were used for the
free recall condition. The participants had to do as many step ups as possible (onto a
255mm-high box) in a 2 minute time period. The study was completed in two sessions,
the first being the baseline for free recall performance and the second session involved
the step up test prior to the administration of the free recall task. Bunce et al. (2004)
found evidence for their hypothesis that “free recall performance is resource dependent
and underpinned by a physiological mechanism involving O 2 transportation” (p. 228).
Free recall performance of smokers declined when physical activity was introduced,
where as a decline was not found in the group of non-smokers. Overall results from their
study found recall performance of both exercise groups to be superior to that of their non­
exercise counteiparts (Bunce et ah, 2004).
Executive Functioning. Executive Functioning can be understood as an
individual’s ability to manage or control a collection of basic cognitive and emotional
processes. In reviewing the research of the relationship between exercise and executive
functioning, Coles and Tomporowski (2008) reported finding mixed results. They looked
at studies in which individuals performed executive tasks during exercise and
immediately after exercise, and found that in both cases the effects of exercise depended
on the type of executive processing tasks.
The Stroop interference task is commonly used to measure executive functioning.
Stroop (1935) studied interference in serial verbal reactions by developing 2 different
experimental materials with differing interference. The first experiment looked at the
effect of interfering color stimuli upon reading names of colors serially. The second
experiment observed the effect of interfering word stimuli upon naming colors serially.
The experiment examined the effects of practice upon interference.
Sibley, Etnier, and Le Masurier (2006) examined the effects of an acute bout of
aerobic exercise on executive functioning in college age students using the Stroop colorword interference and negative priming tests as measures of executive functioning. The
negative priming task used in this study included words printed in the ink color of the
color word stimulus on the previous item. Sibley et al. (2006) noted that prior research
had shown performance to be slower when this type of negative priming Stroop task was
used as compared to the normal color-word interference task. Twenty minutes of self­
paced exercise on a treadmill at a moderate intensity level was compared to 20 minutes of
a sedentary control period when measuring executive functioning. Perceived arousal was
also measured using the Activation-Deactivation Adjective Checklist (AD-ACL)
immediately following the 20 minute exercise or sedentary period, as well as after the
cognitive testing sessions (Sibley et al., 2006).
Each of the 79 initial participants in this study were required to engage in an
exercise session as well as a sedentary control session held at the same time of day within
1 week of each other. Results showed that exercise “leads to a small but significant
improvement in executive functioning related to maintenance of goal-oriented
processing” (Sibley et al., 2006, p.296). The negative priming condition was used in this
study to separate inhibition from interference. By using the negative priming condition
they were able to attribute any improvement in performance on the Stroop interference
task to improvement in goal-oriented processing or to inhibition. They found that an
acute bout of exercise did not have an impact on cognitive inhibition. There was also no
change found in performance on the negative priming task when given after the exercise
condition (Sibley et al., 2006).
The frontal and prefrontal regions of the brain support executive control processes,
and age impacts these regions negatively. However, the rate and intensity of impact
varies among individuals. Bugg, DeLosh and Clegg (2006) examined whether physical
activity had any influence on physical changes in the brain, building on previous studies
that suggested delay in decline of cognitive function in individuals who were physically
active. For example, low, moderate, as well as high physical activity levels were found
to have a positive effect on cognitive function (Clarkson-Smith & Hartley, 1989). Bugg
et al.’s (2006) study focused on effects of exercise and cognitive functioning with the
additional factor of time of day. As a result, they found that performance on executive
control tasks in was affected by mental fatigue. These results supported their hypothesis
that mental fatigue would affect executive control processes, and that less active adults
would experience mental fatigue progressively across the day affecting their performance
on executive functioning tasks (Bugg et al., 2006).
Working M em ory. Another area of interest to researchers has been the effect
exercise and physical activity have on working memory. Multiple components make up
the working memory system. As outlined by Baddeley (1986), working memory is
divided into three components: the visuospatial sketchpad (which holds visual images
and spatial relations in mind), the phonological loop (which holds speech-based
information in mind), and the central executive (which coordinates activity). Baddeley
(1992) refers to working memory as “temporary storage and manipulation of
information” occurring in “a temporarily activated portion of long-term memory” (p.
W orking memory is considered to be an important aspect of cognitive functioning.
Cognitive behaviors ranging from reading comprehension to mathematical problem
solving are supported by working memory (Sibley & Beilock, 2007). W orking memory
capacity is said to be a large part of an individual’s general intellectual ability (Conway,
Kane, Bunting, Hambick, Wilhelm, & Engle, 2005). As stated in Sibley and Beilock
(2007), working memory is “the ability to focus attention on a central task and execute its
required operations while inhibiting irrelevant information regardless of what the central
task is” (p. 786).
Bugg et al.’s (2006) study also examined the effect that physical activity level had
on the performance of a working memory simple reaction time task with older adults at
different times of day. The factor time of day was included in the study because earlier
studies showed that older adults performed better in the morning than in the evening on
various tests of cognitive functioning. This study also addressed the effect mental fatigue
had on executive function. They defined mental fatigue as “the fatigue one might
experience after a day filled with prolonged or demanding cognitive activities” (p. 434).
Results of Bugg et al.’s study showed a decline in working memory performance
from morning to evening for non-active adults. However in active adults, working
memory performance was consistent across time of day. It was found that mental fatigue
occurs in non-active adults, but not so much in active adults. It was also found that this
fatigue has an affect on executive control processes more notably than on other types of
cognitive processes.
Sibley and Beilock (2007) examined whether (a.) an acute bout of exercise might
benefit executive functioning, and (b.) its impact might be a function of levels of working
memory. Forty-eight participants underwent two sessions in a lab, a baseline and an
exercise session. These two sessions were held I week apart at the same time of day.
The first session included two working memory measures and a graded exercise test
which measures oxygen capacity. The exercise session included 30 minutes of self-paced
exercise on a treadmill (while measuring heart rate), immediately followed by two
working memory measures (Sibley & Beilock, 2007).
The two working memory measures used in their study were two separate
versions of both the Operation Span and Reading Span. The Operation Span required
participants to solve a series of arithmetic equations while remembering a list of
unrelated words. In the Reading Span measure, participants read a series of sentenceletter strings aloud, noting whether the sentence makes sense and attempting to remember
the letters. Following the series of sentence-letter strings, participants were asked to list
the letters in sequence. Results showed that only individuals who were lowest in working
memory benefited from an acute bout of exercise (Sibley & Beilock, 2007). The results
of this study supported Sibley and Beilock’s hypothesis that the impact exercise has on
cognitive function varies among individuals.
Purpose and Rationale o f Present Study
Research has shown that an individual bout of physical exercise has an effect on
some types of cognitive functioning including reaction time, executive functioning, and
memory. Research on the effects individual bouts of physical activity have on higher
mental processes, such as executive function and memory, has yielded results that are
less clear (Coles & Tomporowski, 2008).
Coles and Tomporowski (2008) determined that results have been inconsistent
across research in determining a relationship between acute bouts of exercise and short
term memory. The current study examined the immediate effects of moderate exercise
on different measures of working memory capacity. The first of the two measures used
in the study was a Simple Span task measuring the ability to store information in
phonological short term memory. The Operation Span task was used to measure an
individual’s ability to store information, and to use executive functioning.
Research in the area of exercise and cognition has focused extensively on older
adults, as well as school-aged children. M any studies have looked at the long term
effects of exercise and physical activity level on cognitive diseases associated with aging
such as dementia and other forms of memory loss. Extensive research has also looked at
correlations between physical activity level and academic performance in elementary
school children. Due to the lack of research on young adults, college undergraduates
under the age of 25 were chosen for this study.
Sibley and Beilocks’s (2007) study used a similar design as this current study.
However, as with Sibley and Beilock’s study the same group of subjects completed both
the baseline session and the exercise session. The current experiment was designed to
compare individual’s scores both within their groups and across exercise groups. A non­
exercise control group, not included in Sibley and Beilock’s study, was used in the
current experiment to serve as a controlled baseline to compare to two other exercise
groups. The researcher designed the experiment to have participants complete their
participation in only one session making, it possible to use a large number of participants.
The current study also assessed perceived arousal changes before and after exercise as a
secondary measure to determine if an individual’s perceived arousal level was influenced
by exercise and if it had an affect on cognitive performance.
It is hypothesized that exercise will have an immediate effect on an individual’s
working memory. Based on previous research, it is hypothesized that minimal or no
change will be seen on working memory tasks scores after a short bout of light exercise.
It is hypothesized that an increase in scores on memory task will result from a moderate
bout of exercise. It is hypothesized that there will be minimal to no change in memory
tasks scores in the baseline group.
Fifty-five undergraduate college students participated in partial fulfillment of
Introductory Psychology course credit. Students voluntarily signed up for the study on a
flyer posted on a bulletin board in the Psychology building (Appendix A and B).
After signing up, individuals were contacted via e-mail to assure students did not
have any current medical problems, injuries, or were on a medication that may prohibit
them from participating in physical activity requirements of the study. Each participant
was run individually and each session took approximately 75-90 minutes.
M easures
Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR -Q ). The PAR-Q was originally
developed by the British Columbia Ministry of Health and was revised in 1994 by and
Expert Advisory Committee assembled by the Canadian Society for Exercise and
Physiology. As shown in Appendix F, the PAR-Q consists of 7 questions that require a
yes or no response. The questionnaire is designed to assess an individual’s readiness to
participate in physical activity and to screen individuals who may be put at risk by
participating in physical activity. The PAR-Q also provides information for the
individual about active living, healthy eating, and positive self and body image (Canadian
Society for Exercise Physiology, Inc., 1994).
Basic Demographics and Physical Activity Questionnaire. The questionnaire was
developed by the researcher to obtain basic demographic information (age, gender) about
each participant, as well as some additional information essential to the study. The
participant was asked to provide information regarding any learning disorder diagnosis
due to the nature of the memory tasks in the experiment. The questionnaire (see
Appendix G) also gathered information regarding the participant’s sleep schedule as well
as physical activity level. Participants were asked to answer 5 questions regarding sleep
schedule and previous nights sleep. Participants were then asked to provide ratings based
on a 5-point scale for 3 questions regarding physical activity and perceived physical
activity level. Finally, the participant was asked to identify hours spent on various
physical activities over the last week, and approximate amount of days in a typical month
spent on various activities listed.
Borg Ratings o f Perceived Exertion (RPE). One of the most well known of
perceived exertion scales, Borg’s RPE (Appendix H) is a 15 point scale ranging from 620 (Borg & Kaijser, 2006). The scale was designed, and used in this experiment, to give
linear data to heart rate readings (Borg, 1998). Individuals using Borg’s RPE provide the
examiner with a number that they feel best describes their perceived exertion. The
participant is shown the scale which has the list of numbers, and descriptions are given in
word form at every other number increment (i.e. 7 - very, very light, 19 - very, very
hard). A percentage of effort is also associated with each number, which can be seen in
Appendix H (Borg, 1998).
Perceived Arousal Scale (PAS). The perceived arousal scale was developed by
Anderson, Deuser, and DeNeve (1995) in a study examining the effects of hot
tem perature on perceived arousal. In this study they compared physiological measures of
blood pressure and heart rate with participant’s self report perceived arousal scores.
Their original scale consisted of 16 adjectives rated on 7 point scales. Of these 16
adjectives, half reflected high arousal, and half were adjectives reflecting low arousal.
Higher scores reflected greater level of perceived arousal (Anderson et al., 1995).
Anderson et al. (1995) carried out an additional study to check on the validity of
their perceived arousal scale. As a result, they developed two additional questionnaires.
The first questionnaire was used to determine an individual’s familiarity with given
adjectives. The other questionnaire required individuals to rate the way they feel on a 5 point scale for 76 feeling and emotion adjectives - 31 intended to measure perceived
arousal. From this, they developed the current version of the PAS (Appendix I) which
contains 24 items to be rated on a 5 point scale. Of these 24 items, 10 are positive
arousal items and the other 14 are negative arousal items. Scores for the PAS range from
24, reflecting the lowest perceived arousal score, to 120, which would reflect the highest
level of perceived arousal (Anderson et al., 1995).
Letter Span Task. The letter span task was specifically developed to measure the
capacity of the phonological loop component or working memory. There were two forms
developed for the experiment, one used for pre testing and a different set used for post
testing. These forms were identified as Set A (Appendix J) and Set B. Each set consisted
of 9 sets of letter trials, each group contained 3 trials of letters. The first set of 3 trials
consisted of 2 letters and the letter size increased by 1 for each set with the final set
consisting of 10 letters in each trial.
Operation Span Task. The operation span (OSpan) task focuses on an
individual’s ability to briefly store information while completing additional cognitive
tasks (Conway et al., 2005). This task requires the use of both storage and executive
functions of working memory. The task used in this experiment required participant’s to
remember letters that were shown on a computer screen, while simultaneously
determining whether or not math problems displayed on the screen were generating
correct answers.
The OSpan task used in this experiment was developed by Unsworth, Heitz,
Schrock and Engle (2005) and is automated and entirely mouse driven. Due to the length
of time required to administer an OSpan task as well as the risk of error and
inconsistencies from experimenter doing the administration, Unsworth et al. developed
this automated version to increase validity and reliability and allow for easier
administration to a larger group of subjects (2005).
Participants were given written directions on the computer screen that were read
aloud by the researcher prior to the beginning of the task. Participants were given
practice problems to fam iliarize them with the task before the scoring began. The
practice set was broken up into three sections: the first section asked participants to
remember letters as they were flashed on the screen and recall the letters in the correct
order; the second section required participants to compute basic math problems mentally,
and then respond true or false to a given solution for the equation; the third section
com bined the letter recall and the math equations to reflect the task the participants would
be required to do during the scored portion. During the math section, the program timed
the participant’s computation time and response time to the equations. During the scored
task, if the individual took more than their average time, the program automatically
switched to the true/false screen requiring an answer (Unsworth et al., 2005).
The scored portion of the task incorporated the math problems with the letter
recall as was demonstrated in the third section of the practice portion. Participants were
required to recall letters in the correct positions for varying set sizes, with math equations
administered between each letter. The set sizes ranged from 3-7, with 3 sets of each set
size. The complete scored trialed consisted of a total of 75 letters as well as 75 math
equations (Unsworth et al., 2005).
Exercise groups. Upon arrival, participants completed an informed consent form,
approved by the university Institutional Review Board, making participants aware of the
general logistics of the study and possible risks/benefits. The informed consent form
notified the participants that their participation was voluntary and they can withdraw
from the study at any time. Following the informed consent, participants completed a
physical activity readiness questionnaire to assure that they were fit to perform the
required physical activity. Through this questionnaire, the participant confirmed that
they did not have any known issues that would put them at risk and restrict them from
physical activity. Subsequently, participants were randomly assigned to one of two
exercise groups, light exercise or moderate exercise. Each group included 19 participants.
The light exercise group included 13 females and 6 males, and the moderate exercise
group included 4 females and 15 males.
The participants were not made aware of their group until they were required to
perform the physical activity. After assignment to their exercise group, the participant’s
heart rate was obtained using a Polar E600 heart rate monitor. Participants were asked to
place the heart rate monitor on their chest right below their breast bone. Participants
were asked if they felt comfortable to place the monitor directly on their skin to get more
accurate readings. All participants required to use the heart rate monitor agreed to place
the heart rate monitor directly on their skin. Baseline heart rate was then recorded. If
heart rate was unsteady, participants were asked to sit still for several minutes before
continuing with the study in order to obtain a more accurate baseline heart rate. A
participant who rode a bicycle to the study was asked to relax for approximately 15
minutes after completing forms before resting heart rate was obtained.
After obtaining resting heart rate, participants were given a Perceived Arousal
scale. Directions for the scale were read to the participants, and they were given the
opportunity to ask any clarifying questions.
Directions for the letter span task were read aloud to the participants, and they
were given the opportunity to ask questions to clarify the nature of the task. The letter
span task, used as a measure of phonological loop capacity, consisted of 9 groups of 3
trials of letters. The number of letters in each trial increased after each group. The
researcher read each series of letters slowly and allowed time for the participant to repeat
back the letters to the best of their ability. The researcher recorded any errors made by
the participant. W hen the participant was unable to correctly recall two series in any
particular group, the memory task was stopped.
After completion of the letter span memory task, the participant was then asked to
sit in front of a laptop computer to complete the Operation Span (OSpan) task. An
external wireless mouse and a mouse pad were provided. Participants were given the
opportunity to adjust the placement of the computer and the mouse to their comfort level.
The researcher sat to the left of the participant for the instructional and practice part of
the task.
Instructions for the task were given on the screen. The researcher read aloud the
instructions and allowed for questions only when prompted by the instructions on the
screen. After each set of instructions, sample problems were given on the screen to
familiarize the participant with the task they would soon be completing. Upon
completion of the practice problems, the participants were given one more opportunity to
ask questions about the task. The researcher then left the room, allowing the participant
to complete the OSpan task on their own.
As the participant completed the OSpan task, the researcher calculated the
participant’s target heart rate for the upcoming exercise task. Target heart rate for each
participant in the exercise group was calculated using the Karvonen M ethod (McArdle,
Katch, & Katch, 1996). The method involves calculating an individual’s maximum heart
rate by subtracting the individual’s age from 220. Each individual’s previously
determined resting heart rate is then subtracted from the maximum heart rate. The target
heart rate zone for the moderate exercise group was pre-determined to be between 50%
and 70% of the individual’s heart rate reserve. The lower limit of the target heart zone
was calculated by multiplying the heart rate reserve by .50 and then adding on their
resting heart rate. The upper limit was determined by multiplying the heart rate reserve
by .70 and then adding to that their resting heart rate. Target heart rate was not calculated
for individuals in the light exercise group. However heart rate was monitored throughout
the exercise task to ensure it stayed close to resting heart rate.
After completion of the OSpan task, the heart rate limits for participants in the
moderate exercise group were entered into the heart rate monitoring device. By entering
the limits into this device, the participant would be notified by a consistent beeping
anytime the heart rate deviated from their designated limits. This also helped assure the
researcher that the participant was within the limits calculated to assure a moderate level
of activity. Participants in the moderate activity level group were required to stay within
their heart rate limits for 10-minutes.
The cycle ergometer seat height was adjusted to comfortably fit each participant.
Participants were also able to adjust the resistance of the pedals if needed. Participants
were asked to pedal at a slow pace until they felt comfortable with the cycle ergometer.
Individuals in the moderate activity level group then began to steadily increase their
pedal rate until target heart rate zone was reached. Once they entered the targeted zone,
the researcher began timing the task. Participants in the light physical activity group
were asked to take 2 minutes to find a light comfortable pace so as to exert minimal effort.
After they assumed a comfortable pace, the researcher began the timer and they were
asked to maintain this pace throughout the duration of the task.
Self-report perceived exertion was measured throughout the task using Borg’s 15point perceived exertion scale (Borg, 1998). At 2-minute increments, the researcher
asked the participant to rate their perceived exertion on the given scale, which ranged
from 6 (lightest) to 20 (hardest). The scale was held up by the researcher in front of them
as they perform ed the physical activity task. This was done for both the light and
moderate activity groups. Participants in the light activity group were asked to keep their
exertion level between 7 and 9 on the scale. Participants in the moderate level group
were asked to keep their perceived exertion between 10 and 13 on the scale. If
participants felt they were above or below the given level, they were asked to adjust
accordingly. Borg’s perceived exertion scale was used in addition to the heart rate
m onitor to determine the amount of exertion throughout the task, and to ensure that
participants were exerting a level of energy comparable to what was being asked of them.
Once the 10 minute time period elapsed, participants were asked to decrease their
pedal speed and perform a cool down on the cycle ergometer to allow any rise in heart
rate to slowly decrease. Participants were told to perform their cool down until they felt
ready to stop. After their cool down, participants returned to a stationary position at the
table in the same room and were given 3 minutes to relax. Participants were then asked
to fill out a basic demographics and physical activities questionnaire. The heart rate of
individuals in the moderate activity group was continuously observed to ensure heart rate
was dropping back to resting levels.
Immediately after completion of the demographic and physical activity
questionnaire, individuals in the light activity group were asked to complete the
Perceived Arousal Scale a second time. Individuals in the moderate activity group were
asked to sit a stationary position until heart rate returned to baseline. Subsequently, they
were asked to complete the perceived exertion and the mood scale once again.
Upon completion of the PAS, participants were reminded of the directions for the
letter span memory task and were given the opportunity to ask questions. The letter span
memory task was then administered, and then the participants were asked to seat
themselves in front of a computer. The OSpan task was then administered. Participants
were required to complete the practice items again, but were given permission by the
researcher to skip through the instruction screens if they wished. The researcher left the
room for the duration of the practice portion and the complex memory task.
After the participant finished the OSpan task the second time, they were then
asked to remove the hear rate monitor. Each participant was given a debriefing
(Appendix K) explaining the nature of the study and providing contact information for
the researcher as well as researcher’s supervisor if needed. The debriefing form also
noted that participant’s could request a copy of study results once available.
Baseline (Control) group. Participants in the control group task met the
researcher in a room in the Psychology Department building, similar in size to the
exercise lab used. Upon arrival, individuals were asked to read over and sign an
informed consent form, and then completed the Perceived Arousal Scale. Participants
were given an opportunity to ask questions after the directions were read.
After completion of the PAS, participants were seated on the side of a large desk
with the researcher at a 90° angle. Directions for the short term memory task were read
aloud. Following the directions being read, participants were asked if they were clear of
the directions and were given the opportunity to ask any questions. The task was then
administered, with the researcher reading each letter in each series slowly, and the
participant repeating back to the researcher what they recalled.
Following the letter span memory task, the participant was asked to switch seats
with the researcher and placed in front of a laptop. The same laptop was used for all
participants across groups. The researcher sat next to the participant and the read the
directions for the OSpan task that were displayed on the screen. The participant
completed the practice problems and was allowed to ask questions throughout the
instructions and practice period. After completion of the practice tasks, the researcher
allowed for any final questions and then left the room to allow the participant to complete
the task without distractions. Participants were asked to open the door to the examination
room upon completion so the researcher was aware that the task was completed.
Participants were given as much time as needed to complete the OSpan memory task.
After the task was completed, the researcher returned to the room and the
participant was asked to remain in front of the computer. The participant was then asked
to watch a 10-minute video clip on the computer screen. A video clip about Ireland was
chosen that was not cognitively taxing but something the participant needed to pay
attention to. The video clip was used as a filler task equivalent in time to the exercise
task performed in the exercise groups.
Following the video clip, participants were asked to complete the basics
demographics and physical activity questionnaire. Next the participants completed the
Perceived Arousal Scale a second time. The letter span memory task was then
administered, with the researcher again explaining the directions and allowing for
questions. The session was concluded with the participant completing the OSpan task
second time, including completion of the practice problems prior to the task itself.
Participants were given a debriefing form at the conclusion of the session stating the
purpose of the research and with contacting information if needed.
The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance with pretest scores as
covariate to test if baseline, light, and moderate groups differed on the posttest scores.
An alpha level of .05 was used for evaluating significance. Fifty-five subjects completed
the experiment; however data for 4 participants were dropped due to their inattentiveness
to the tasks leaving 17 participants in each group.
Analysis of covariance showed a significant differences among the 3 exercise
groups on perceived arousal scores (F [2, 47] = 5.96, p = .005, i f = .202). Adjusted mean
posttest scores and standard deviation are reported in Table 1. The adjusted means
analysis showed the only non-overlapping 95% confidence intervals were between
baseline and moderate exercise groups (see table 1).
The letter span task was scored based on W echsler’s (1997) scoring procedure of
the letter span task in the WAIS - III. W hen the participant responded incorrectly on 2
trials within a particular set, the task was discontinued, however all previous correct trials
were used to compute participant’s overall letter span score (Wechsler, 1997). An
analysis of covariate revealed no differences among the 3 exercise groups on the letter
span task (F [2, 47] = 1.65, p = .204, i f = .065). Adjusted mean post test scores and
standard deviation are reported in Table 2.
The Operation Span (OSpan) task was scored in two ways. The OSpan total score
was calculated by the total number of letters recalled correctly, in their correct positions,
across all trials. The OSpan absolute score was calculated by summing all perfectly
recalled sets. In other words, the individual was only given credit for correct answers in a
letter set if all answers in that set were recalled correctly, in their correct positions
(Unsworth et al., 2005).
Analysis of covariate revealed no significant interaction differences among the
exercise groups on OSpan total scores (F [2, 47] = 1.63, p = .207, r|2 = .065). Adjusted
mean posttest scores and standard deviation are reported in Table 3. Analysis of
covariance also revealed no significant differences among exercise groups on OSpan
absolute scores (F [2, 47] = .64, p =.531, p2 = .027). Adjusted mean post test scores and
standard deviation are reported in Table 4.
Table 1
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on Perceived Arousal Scores
Exercise Group
Adjusted M
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Table 2
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on Letter Span Scores across Groups
Exercise Group
Adjusted M
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Table 3
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on OSpan Total Scores across Groups
Exercise Group
Adjusted M
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Table 4
Results o f Analysis o f Covariance on OSpan Absolute Scores across Groups
Exercise Group
Adjusted M
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
The purpose of this study was to examine if a short bout of physical exercise had
an immediate effect of perform ance on working memory tasks. The results showed no
differences among the 3 exercise groups on either the Letter Span task or the Operation
Span task. An analysis of covariance was used in analyzing the data to increase the
power to detect an effect of the independent variable. In ANCOVA, using the covariate
of pre testing scores can assist in reduction of any unexplained variability.
Although no significant differences were found when looking at the immediate
effects of exercise on working memory, there was a significant difference found in
perceived arousal. In both light and moderate groups, an increase in arousal was seen
from prior to the exercise task to after completion of the exercise task. Participants in the
baseline group overall reported minimal change in perceived arousal from first report to
second report. Adjusted means analysis found the only significant difference in
perceived arousal among exercise groups was between baseline and moderate exercise
groups. This is an important manipulation check that exercise was really effective in
altering participant’s physiological state.
Limitations o f Study
The researcher exam ined 55 subjects in the study. Four subjects were observed
by the researcher to be inattentive to the tasks at hand and exerting minimal effort to
complete task to the best of their ability. All participants of the study were undergraduate
students in need of fulfilling a required research credit for an Introduction to Psychology
class. The researcher notes that some limitations may have been present in the study due
to participant’s need to fulfill credit and a lack of interest in the content of the study.
There were several limitations found while conducting this study which may have
decreased the overall power of the experiment. Some of the limitations were associated
with availability of time and resources. The exercise lab used in this study for the cycle
ergom eter task had limited hours available for use. Therefore, the researcher could
conduct this study with the exercise groups only when space was available.
The most significant limitation to this study was the subject pool as well as the
lack of random assignment to the baseline group. Due to limited availability of the
exercise lab used in the light and moderate exercise groups, research for the baseline
group was conducted in a different area and was therefore advertised differently. Since
the advertisement to sign up sheet for the study for the baseline group did not mention
any required physical activity (as the other groups did), there is a possibility of a self­
selection bias. Individuals already more physically fit may have been the individuals
volunteering to participate in the sessions of the study that took place in the exercise lab
and mentioned the involvement of physical activity.
W hile observing participants, the researcher also noticed other possible
limitations. One possible limitation was the implementing of strategies for the post test
portion of the session. It appears the participants used different strategies at post testing
then at pre testing. In the letter span task, two different sets of letters were used to
elim inate practice effects; however some participants still picked up on strategies to
remember the letters. Several participants mentioned to the researcher ways they had
strategize, in particular in the letter span task, to better remember the letters that were
presented to them orally. Since the letters were read aloud by the examiner for each
client, the auditory presentation may have affected each participant’s outcome. As
Baddeley notes that even a brief pause could benefit the individual recalling the letters,
allowing the grouping effect to be produced. In auditory presentation, individual’s can
detect a rhythmic aspect of speech which could aid in their recall (Baddeley, 1997). If
this rhythmic aspect of speech differed across participants, some participant’s may have
been at an advantage in recalling the letters.
Another possible limitation noticed by the researcher was that of test fatigue. Due
to the length of the tasks, in particular the Operation Span task, participants tended to
appear less motivated to exert effort when they were asked to complete the OSpan task a
second time. The researcher observed a number of participants sigh as they were given
the directions to complete the OSpan task a second time. Many appeared motivated to do
well on the OSpan task during the pre testing phase, however since the same task was
administered a second time motivation was appeared to decrease for a number of
In an effort to eliminate observer bias, the researcher left the room during the
scored portion of the OSpan task. However, the researcher had concerns whether some
participants completed task to the best of their ability. Observation during the instruction
and practice portion of the task frequently displayed individuals that were motivated and
determined to perform well. Only few participants demonstrated confusion with the
material presented in the task, majority of participants performed well on the practice
portion. However, some individuals that were observed performing well in the practice
portion produced results that suggested otherwise.
Suggestions fo r Further Research
One suggestion is to expand the pool of participants to gather participants with a
desire to perform their best in completing of the study. If possible, using participants that
volunteer, or participants in which the potential of completion for personal gain is
eliminated. Using individuals with interest in the content of the study, possibly
individuals in the Health Sciences department, may also be beneficial.
Another suggestion is the addition of a participant group using individuals that
participate in a collegiate sport. By adding athletes as a separate group, the effect of
fatigue could be measured. Individuals who participate in physical activity at a more
constant and higher level would experience muscle fatigue at a later point than
individuals who are less active (Tomporowski & Ellis, 1986; W eingarten, 1973).
Additional data from this group could provide support for the idea that individuals who
are more physically fit show greater improved performance immediately after physical
Another area for research is the development of a longitudinal study of the long­
term effects exercise has on cognitive functions. As opposed to a correlational self-report
study on how exercise has an effect on cognitive functions across the lifespan, the
studying an individual’s exercise habits as well as cognitive performance across a period
of time may provide interesting information into this area of research.
In particular, better understanding of the physiological effects exercise has on the
cognitive systems in the brain could be beneficial. As mentioned in the review of
literature, physical exercise is found to have a positive effect on the brain and aid in
preventing deterioration of parts of the brain due to aging. Amyloid beta (Ap), a peptide
largely responsible for the development of amyloid plaques which are integral in the
pathogenesis of A lzheim er’s Disease (AD), has been shown to be related to body fat and
exercise in younger adults. Body Mass Index and body fat are found to have an
association with higher serum levels of Ap. Diet, appetite, and voluntary exercise, on the
other hand, are believed to have an inverse relationship with Ap (Leahey, Myers, Gunstad,
Glickman, Spitznagel, Alexander, & Heltzel, 2007).
Leahey et al. (2007) examined the relationship between Ap levels, and body
composition and fitness in older adults. Thirty-five participants were used in this study
which consisted of blood tests as well as cognitive testing, and body composition and
physical fitness assessments. Results from the study found that Ap levels are related to
measures of body composition and physical fitness in healthy older adults. Findings from
the study suggest that exercise may aid in the reducing the risk of A lzheim er’s disease
related pathology by limiting serum Ap levels. Maintaining an active lifestyle is believed
to help decrease one’s risk of developing Alzheim er’s disease related pathology.
Another important factor in the brain, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF),
is also believed to be affected by exercise. BDNF plays an important role in many
different functions of the brain, including the learning process, memory and locomotion,
among others (Radak, Kumagai, Taylor, Naito, & Goto 2007). Exercise is found to have
a positive effect on the expression and protein content of BDNF (Mattson, Maudsley, &
Martin, 2004).
A meta-analysis by Etnier, Nowell, Landers and Sibley (2006) discussed other
physiological ways in which physical exercise has a positive effect on cognition.
Cardiovascular fitness is believed to be associated with changes in several physiological
mechanisms that have shown to associate with cognitive performance. Such mechanisms
as cerebral structure, cerebral blood flow and BDNF are all affected by physical activity
and in turn lead to changes in cognitive functioning (Vaynman, Ying, & Gomez-Pinilla,
2004). Cerebral oxygen supply is also believed to be a major component of cognitive
functioning (Bunce & Birdi, 1998). Neurotransmitters in the brain are also believed to be
influenced by exercise. Increases in norepinephrine, serotonin and endorphins have all
been found to be a result of an acute bout of exercise (Etnier et al., 1997).
Although results of research vary on how exercise affects different aspects of
cognitive functioning, the physiological aspect of the body explains the benefits exercise
does have on the functioning of the brain. In this study, there was not a significant
relationship found between exercise and improvement in memory tasks. As research in
the area continues to grow, the physiological findings mentioned above may lead to more
research in the idea that more consistent physical activity in an individual’s lifetime can
lead to overall improvement in cognitive functioning.
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Appendix A
Flyer for Exercise Portion of Study
Research Participants
Undergraduate students are needed to participate in a
research study that involves light to moderate physical
activity and memory tasks.
Study will take place in the Exercise Lab in the
Health Sciences building on South Campus and
takes approximately 1.5 hours.
**T h is will fulfill required research credit for
Intro to Psychology Classes**
If interested - please sign name and e-mail
address for a time slot below - and e-mail
[email protected] if you have any questions.
-If you are interested and none of the tim e slots work for you, please email me and I'll try to work something out.
Due to required physical activity participation in
this study, I need to be sure that each participant
is medically able to partake in the study.
Participation is not confirmed until contacted!
Please check e-mail!!
Appendix B
Flyer for Baseline (Control) Session
Research Participants
Undergraduate students are needed to
participate in a research study that involves
completing several different memory tasks.
Study will take place in People’s Building and should take
approximately 1 hour to complete.
If interested, please sign name and e-mail
address in a time slot below. E-mail
KQ662570 if you have any
-If interested and none of the time slots work, please e-mail and we
will try to work something out. MORE TIMES WILL BE
Participants will be e-mailed to confirm participation please check e-mail and PLEASE e-mail
[email protected] if you signed up and will not be
able to make it for any reason!
Appendix C
Procedure List - Exercise Groups
Procedure: Exercise Groups
1. Obtain resting heart rate - 2 minutes
2. Sign informed consent - 3 minutes
3. Complete Physical readiness questionnaire - 5 minutes
4. Complete perceived arousal questionnaire - 5 minutes
5. Administer simple span task - 10 minutes
6. Administer executive functioning task on computer - 20 minutes
7. Introduce to cyclogometer - 2 minutes
8. Adjust seat on cycogometer - 2 minutes
9. Warm up to get use to machine - 1-2 minutes
10. Exercise set - 12-14 minutes (depending on when target HR is reached).
11. Cool down - 2 minutes
12. Relax - 3 minutes
13. Demographics questionnaire - 5 minutes
14. When resting heart rate is obtained - Perceived arousal questionnaire - 5 minutes
15. Simple span task - 10 minutes
16. Executive functioning task - 12 minutes.
Appendix D
Procedure List - Baseline Group
Procedure: Baseline Group
1. Sign informed consent - 3 minutes
2. Complete perceived arousal questionnaire - 5 minutes
3. Administer simple span task - 10 minutes
4. Administer executive functioning task on computer - 20 minutes
5. Video clip - 10-12 minutes
6. Demographics questionnaire - 5 minutes
7. Perceived arousal questionnaire - 5 minutes
8. Simple span task - 10 minutes
9. Executive functioning task - 12-15 minutes.
Appendix E
Informed Consent
Consent Form for Research Participation
G eeta Shivde, Ph.D.
Department o f P sych ology
W est Chester U niversity
T his project has been review ed and approved by the W est Chester Institutional Research R eview
C om m ittee’s Hum an Subjects Subcom m ittee (H SS). The HSS b elieves that the research procedures
adequately safeguard the subject's privacy, w elfare, civil liberties, and rights. The H SS Chairperson may
be reached through the D irector o f Sponsored Research, W est Chester U niversity, W est Chester, PA 19380
or, by telephone, (6 1 0 )4 3 6 -3 3 1 0 .
PRO JECT TITLE: The effect of m oderate aerobic physical activity on m em ory
PU R PO SE : This research project has been designed to answer questions about how m oderate aerobic
activity m ight affect perform ance on m em ory tasks in young, healthy adults.
PR O C ED U R E S: Y ou w ill be asked to do several kinds o f m em ory tasks before and after physical activity
using an ex ercise b icy cle.
RISKS: T his study w ill require you to en gage in light to moderate physical activity using a stationary
bicy cle, and there is a sm all risk o f physical injury from incorrect use o f the equipm ent. Y ou may
also experience temporary breathlessness and/or fatigue. Y ou w ill be m onitored c lo sely throughout
the session to prevent any injury.
B EN E FIT S: W e hope that you w ill learn more about the relationship betw een physical activity and
co g n itiv e perform ance. T his inform ation m ay be used to help design health and w elln ess programs for the
general public.
C O M P E N SA T IO N : A s com pensation for your participation, you w ill receive credit
towards your P sy ch o lo g y course or will be paid $ 1 0 per hour.
C O N F ID E N T IA L IT Y : Your participation in this research study is confidential, and any
data gathered w ill be anonym ous.
W IT H D R A W A L : Y our participation is com pletely voluntary. Y ou may withdraw your
consent and discontinue participation at any tim e without penalty or loss o f benefits.
C O N T A C T IN FO R M A TIO N : If you w ould like more information about this study, a
summary o f the results or if y ou incur any physical injury during your participation,
please contact: G eeta Shivde, Ph.D ., P eoples 38, 6 1 0 -3 4 6 -3 2 0 7 .
I confirm that my participation is entirely voluntary. N o coercion o f any kind has been used to obtain
my cooperation.
I understand that I may withdraw my consent and terminate my participation at any time during the
I have been inform ed o f the procedures that w ill be used in the project and understand what w ill be
required o f me as a subject.
I understand that all o f m y responses, written/oral/task, w ill remain com p letely anonym ous.
I understand that a sum m ary o f the results o f the project w ill be made available to me at the
com p letion o f the study if I so request.
I w ish to g iv e my voluntary cooperation as a participant.
Subject Signature
W itness
Appendix F
Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire
P hysical A ctivity R e ad in e ss
Q u e stio n n a ire - P AR -Q
(A Q u e s tio n n a ire fo r P e o p le A g e d 15 to 6 9 )
R egu lar physical a ctivity is fun and healthy, and in cre asing ly m ore pe ople a re starting to becom e m ore active eve ry day. B eing more
active is very safe fo r m ost people. H ow ever, som e people should che ck w ith th e ir d o cto r be fore the y sta rt be com ing m uch m ore
p h ysica lly active.
If you are plan ning to be com e m uch m ore ph ysica lly active tha n you are now, start by an sw e ring the seven qu e stio n s in the box below . If
you are be tw een the ag es of 15 and 69, th e P A R -Q will tell you if you should ch e ck w ith you r d o cto r before you start. If you are o ve r 69 years
of age, and you are no t used to being v e ry active, che ck w ith yo u r doctor.
C om m on sen se is y o u r be st gu id e w hen you an sw e r th e se questions. P lease read the qu estions ca re fu lly and a n sw e r each one honestly:
che ck Y E S or NO.
Has y o u r do cto r eve r said tha t you have a heart condition and tha t you sho uld only do physical activity
re com m ended by a doctor?
Do you feel pain in y o u r che st w hen you do physical activity?
In the past month, have you had che st pain w hen you w ere not doing ph ysica l activity?
Do you lose your ba la nce because of dizzine ss o r do you ever lose con scio usne ss?
Do you have a bone o r joint problem that could be m ade w orse by a cha nge in you r ph ysica l activity?
Is y o u r d o c to r c urrently prescribing drugs (for exam ple, w a te r pills) for yo u r blood pressure o r heart con dition?
Do vou know of anv o th e r reason w hv vou should no t do physical activitv?
Y E S to one or m ore qu estio ns
Talk with your doctor by phone or in person BEFORE you start becoming much more physically active or BEFORE you have a
fitness appraisal. Tell your doctor about the PAR-Q and which questions you answered YES.
• You maybe able to do any activity you want — as long as you start slowly and build up gradually. Or, you may need to restrict
your activities to those which are safe for you. Talk with your doctor about the kinds of activities you wish to participate in
and follow his/her advice.
• Find out which community programs are safe and helpful for you.
N O to all qu estio ns
• if you are not feeling well because of a temporary illness such
as a cold or a fever — wait until you feel better; or
If you answered NO honestly to aJi PAR-Q questions, you can be reasonably
• if you are or may be pregnant — talk to your doctor before you
sure that you can:
start becoming more active.
* start becoming much more physically active — begin slowly and build
up gradually. This is the safest and easiest way to go.
* take part in a fitness appraisal — this is an excellent way to determine
Please note: If your health changes so that you then answer YES to
your basic fitness so that you can plan the best way for you to live
any of the above questions, tell your fitness or health professional.
Ask whether you should change your physical activity plan.
Inform ed U se of the P A R -Q : The C a na d ia n S ociety fo r E xercise P hysiolo g y. H ealth C anada, a nd the ir a g e nts a ssum e no liability fo r p erson s w h o u nd ertake physica l activity, and
if in d o u b t a fte r c o m p le tin g th is q u e stio n n a ire , co nsu lt y o u r d o cto r p rio r to p hysical activity.
You are encouraged to copy the PAR-Q but only if you use the entire form
N O T E : I f the P A R -Q is b e in g g iven to a p e rso n b e fo re he o r she p a rtic ip a te s in a p h y s ic a l a ctivity p ro gra m o r a fitn e ss app ra isa l, this s e ctio n m a y be u sed fo r le g a l o r
a d m in istra tive p urpo ses.
I have read, understood and c o m pleted this qu estionn aire . A ny questions I had w ere a n sw e red to m y full satisfaction.
N A M E _______________________________________________________________________________________
S IG N A T U R E ______________________________________________________________________________________ D A T E _______________________________________ ________________
S IG N A T U R E O F P A R E N T _________________________________________________________________________ W IT N E S S __________ _________________________________________
o r G U A R D IA N (for p a rticipa n ts u nd er the age of m ajo rity)
© Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Socidte canadienne de physiologie de I'exercice
c o n t in u e d o n o t h e r s id e
S u p p o rte d b y :
H ealth
C a na d a
S ant£
C a na d a
Physical Activity H e a d in e s s
...continued from other side
^ ^ T re^ sed ^ S ?
W e know that being ph ysica lly active provides benefits fo r all of us. N ot being ph ysica lly active is recognized by the H eart and S troke
Foundation of C ana da as one o f the fo u r m odifiable prim ary risk factors fo r coronary heart disea se (along w ith high blood pressure, high
blood cholesterol, and sm oking). P eople are ph ysica lly active fo r m any reasons — play, w ork, com petition, health, creativity, enjoying the
outdoors, being w ith friends. T here are also as m any w ays of being active as there are reasons. W h a t w e cho ose to do depend s on our
ow n ab ilitie s and desires. No m a tter w hat the reason o r type of activity, physical activity can im prove ou r w ell-b eing and qu ality of life.
W ell-be ing can also be en hance d by integrating physical activity with en jo yable healthy eating and positive self and body im age. Together,
all th re e equal V ITA LIT Y . So take a fresh approach to living. C heck ou t the V ITA LIT Y tips below!
A c tiv e Living:
H ealth y E ating:
P ositive S e lf a n d B o d y Im age:
• accu m ulate 30 m inutes o r m ore of
• follow C anada's Food G uide to H ealthy Eating
• acce pt who you are and how you
m o dera te ph ysica l a ctivity m ost
• enjoy a varie ty of foods
days o f the w eek
• em phasize cereals, breads, oth er grain products,
• take the stairs instead of an elevator
• get o ff the bus ea rly and w alk hom e
• jo in frie nds in a spo rt activity
• re m e m b e r, a h e a lth y w e ig h t
veg etab le s an d fruit
range is one th a t is realistic for
• ch o o s e lo w e r-fa t da iry p ro d u cts, le a n e r m e a ts and
foo ds prepared w ith little or no fat
you r ow n body m ake-up (body
fa t levels should neither be too
• take the dog fo r a w a lk w ith the
fam ily
• a c h ie v e a n d m a in ta in a h e a lth y b o d y w e ig h t by
• fo llo w a fitness program
• lim it salt, alcohol and caffeine
• com plim en t you rself
• d o n ’t give up foods you enjoy — aim for m oderation
■ reflect positively on y o u r abilities
enjoying regular physical activity and healthy eating
and variety
high nor too low )
• try a new challenge
• laugh a lot
Enjoy eating well, being active and feeling good about yourself That ys VITAL1T*
The follow ing com panion forms are available for doctors' use by contacting the Canadian Society for Exercise P h ysiology (address below):
T he P h y sica l A ctiv ity R eadiness M ed ica l E xa m in a tion (P A R m ed -X ) - to be used by doctors with people w ho answer YES to one or more
questions on the PAR-Q.
T he P h y sical A ctivity R ea d in ess M ed ical E xa m in a tion for P regnancy (P A R m ed -X for P R E G N A N C Y ) - to be used by doctors with
pregnant patients w ho wish to becom e more active.
R eferences:
Arraix, G .A ., W igle, D .T., M ao, Y. (1992). Risk A ssessm en t o f Physical A ctivity and Physical Fitness in the Canada Health Survey
Follow -U p Study. J. C lin . E p id em io l. 45:4 4 1 9 -4 28.
M ottola, M ., W olfe, L.A. (1994). A ctive Living and Pregnancy, In: A. Quinney, L. Gauvin, T. W all (eds.). T o w a rd A ctive L iving:
P ro ceed in g s o f th e In te r n a tio n a l C o n fe r e n c e on P h y sica l A c tiv ity , F itn ess an d H ealth . Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
PA R -Q Validation Report, British C olum bia M inistry o f Health, 1978.
Thom as, S., R eading, J., Shephard, R.J. (1 9 92). R evision o f the Physical A ctivity R eadiness Q uestionnaire (PA R -Q ). C an. J. S p t. S ci. 17:4
3 3 8 -3 4 5 .
To order multiple printed copies o f the PAR-Q, please contact the
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
185 Somerset St. West, Suite 202
Ottawa, Ontario CANADA K2P 0J2
Tel. (613) 234-3755 FAX: (613) 234-3565
The o rig in a l P AR -Q w as d e ve lo p e d by the B ritis h C o lum bia
Ministry of Health. It has been revised by an Expert Advisory Committee
assembled by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology and Fitness
Canada (1994).
D ispon ible en frangais sous le titre «Q uestionnaire sur I'aptitude a I'activite physique - Q -A A P (revise 1994)».
' Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology
Societe canadienne de physiologie de Texercice
Supported by:
| A |
l " |
Appendix G
Basic Demographics and Physical Activity Questionnaire
Subject # _____
Basic Demographics and Physical Activity Questionnaire
A g e :____________________
G ender:____
Have you been diagnosed with any type of Learning D isorder?_______________
If so, please explain:____________________
What time do you normally fall asleep?
What time (approximately) did you fall asleep last n igh t?__________
What time do you normally wake u p ? _____________
What time (approximately) did you wake up this m orning?_________
On an average night - approximately how many hours of sleep do you g e t? _________
Physical Activity Level
1-Not active
2-Minimally active
3-Equally active and inactive
4 - Somewhat active
5-Very active
Using the above scale:
Rate how you perceive your personal activity level.______
Rate what you think others would perceive your activity level to b e . _____
Rate how you think your activity level compares to that of your peers.______
Physical Activity
During the last week, how many hours have you spent on each of the following activities:
(Please check only one box).
Less than 1 hour
1-3 hours
3-6 hours
More than 6 hours
Physical exercise - such
as swimming,
jogging/running, gym
Cycling - for both
exercise and
transportation purposes.
Doing housework.
Participating in an
organized or recreational
sporting activity.
Watching television
and/or playing video
Walking - for
transportation purpose
In a typical m onth, approximately how many days a week do you do the following:
Not at all
Work out at a gym.
Participate in an
organized or
recreational sporting
Exercise outdoors such as running,
biking, jogging,
power walking, rollerskating.
Do housework
Walk or bike for
Take a nap during the
1-2 days
2-4 days
5 days
6-7 days
Appendix H
Borg’s Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale
6 - 20 % - no exertion at all
7 - 30 % - extremely light
9-50% - very light
1 1 -6 0 % -light
13-70% - somewhat hard
15-80% - hard (heavy)
17 - 90 % - very hard
19 - 100% - extremely hard
20 - maximum exertion
Appendix I
Perceived Arousal Scale
Perceived Arousal Scale
Different people react very differently to the same situations. Indicate to
what extent you feel this way right now, that is, at the present moment. Use
the following 5-point rating scale. Write the number corresponding to your
rating on the blank line next to each word.
very slightly
or not at all
a little
quite a bit
Appendix J
Letter Span Tasks - Set A and Set B
Appendix K
Research has shown physical activity to have a positive affect on cognitive
abilities. The current study is being carried out to determine if physical activity has an
immediate effect on simple and/or complex cognitive tasks. It is hypothesized that an
improvement in cognitive ability will be seen following a short, moderate physical
exercise session.
If you are interested in the final results of this study, please contact me at
[email protected] This study is being completed for graduate thesis research
requirement and is under the supervision of Dr. Geeta Shivde. If you have any questions,
comments, or concerns please feel free to contact me, or my supervisor, Dr. Shivde
([email protected]).
Thank you again for your participation.
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