Acute, intermediate intensity exercise, and speed and accuracy in working memory tasks: A meta-analytical comparison of effects

T. McMorris, John Sproule, Tony Turner, B. J. Hale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare, using meta-analytic techniques, the effect of acute, intermediate intensity exercise on the speed and accuracy of performance of working memory tasks. It was hypothesized that acute, intermediate intensity exercise would have a significant beneficial effect on response time and that effect sizes for response time and accuracy data would differ significantly. Random-effects meta-analysis showed a significant, beneficial effect size for response time, g = − 1.41 (p < 0.001) but a significant detrimental effect size, g = 0.40 (p < 0.01), for accuracy. There was a significant difference between effect sizes (Zdiff = 3.85, p < 0.001). It was concluded that acute, intermediate intensity exercise has a strong beneficial effect on speed of response in working memory tasks but a low to moderate, detrimental one on accuracy. There was no support for a speed-accuracy trade-off. It was argued that exercise-induced increases in brain concentrations of catecholamines result in faster processing but increases in neural noise may negatively affect accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume102
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011

Keywords

  • Arousal
  • Central executive
  • Catecholamines
  • Event related potential
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Anterior cingulate cortex

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