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The role of chronic physical exercise and selective attention at encoding on implicit and explicit memory

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Despite the evidence revealing benefits of chronic cardiovascular exercise on executive functions, little research has been conducted on long-term memory. We aimed to investigate the effect of physical exercise on implicit and explicit memory when attention was modulated at encoding in two groups of active and sedentary participants. With this purpose, attention was manipulated in a similar way in the implicit and explicit memory tasks by presenting picture outlines of two familiar objects, one in blue and the other in green, and participants were asked to pay attention only to one of them. Implicit memory was assessed through conceptual priming and explicit memory through a free recall task followed by recognition. The results did not reveal significant differences between groups in conceptual priming or free recall. However, in recognition, while both groups had similar discrimination for attended stimuli, active participants showed lower discrimination between unattended and new stimuli. These results suggested that exercise may have effects on specific cognitive processes, that is, that active participants may suppress non-relevant information better than sedentary participants, making the discrimination between unattended and new items more difficult.
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Keywords: Cardiovascular; explicit; implicit; inhibition; memory; suppression

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Neuropsychology and Cognition Research Group, Department of Psychology and University Institute for Research in Healthcare Science, University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain 2: Studies on Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group, Departmento de Psicología Básica II, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain

Publication date: September 14, 2017

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