Raine, L., Lee, H.-K., Saliba, B., Drollette, E., Chaddock, L., Hillman, C., & Kramer, A. (2013). The influence of childhood aerobic fitness on learning and memory. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(5), Supplement abstract number 2381.

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This study investigated the relation of aerobic fitness to learning and memory on a task that involved remembering names and locations on a fictitious map in nine and ten year-olds. Ss were classified as higher (N = 24) or lower (N = 24) in aerobic fitness. The task involved remembering names of specific regions on a map, under conditions in which they only studied versus conditions in which they were tested during study. The recall day was one day later and involved two different conditions: free-recall and cued-recall.

There were no differences at the encoding phases between higher and lower fit Ss. There was an effect of fitness, learning condition, and recall type. Ss performed more accurately during the recall session for the map that was learned using the tested-during-study condition, and also performed more accurately on the cued recall final test. Importantly, high-fitness children exhibited greater mean accuracy than low-fitness children.

Implication. Intermittent testing as well as enhanced aerobic fitness may benefit learning and memory in young children. Regardless of the manner in which encoding occurred or how much transfer was required, High-fitness children outperformed low-fitness children. This study provides additional support that fitness is related to brain health, learning, and memory in preadolescent children and as such should be an important feature in the education system.

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