Time-Dependent Effects of Acute Exercise-Induced Arousal on Long-Term Memory for Emotional and Neutral Stimuli
Weiss, Lauren Rachel
Smith, J. Carson
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Psychological research has strongly documented the memory-enhancing effects of emotional arousal, while the effects of acute aerobic exercise on memory are not well understood. Manipulation of arousal has been shown to enhance long-term memory for emotional stimuli in a time-dependent fashion. This presents an opportunity to investigate the role of acute exercise in memory modulation. The purpose of this study was to determine the time-dependent relationship between acute exercise-induced arousal and long-term emotional memory. Participants viewed pleasant, neutral, and unpleasant images before or after completing a high-intensity session of cycling exercise. Salivary alpha-amylase, a biomarker of central norepinephrine, was measured as an indicator of arousal. No effects of exercise on recognition memory were revealed, however; a single session of high-intensity cycling increased salivary alpha-amylase. Our results also indicate that the influence of exercise on emotional responsiveness should be considered in further exploration of the memory-enhancing potential of acute exercise.