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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6205452, 11 pages
Research Article

Acute Exercise and Motor Memory Consolidation: The Role of Exercise Timing

1Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
2Department of Neuroscience & Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen, 2200 Copenhagen, Denmark
3Department of Neurological Surgery, The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33136, USA
4Memory and Motor Rehabilitation Laboratory (MEMORY-LAB), Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital, Montreal Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation (CRIR), Montréal, QC, Canada H7V 1R2
5School of Physical & Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 1Y5

Received 28 January 2016; Accepted 14 April 2016

Academic Editor: Terry McMorris

Copyright © 2016 Richard Thomas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


High intensity aerobic exercise amplifies offline gains in procedural memory acquired during motor practice. This effect seems to be evident when exercise is placed immediately after acquisition, during the first stages of memory consolidation, but the importance of temporal proximity of the exercise bout used to stimulate improvements in procedural memory is unknown. The effects of three different temporal placements of high intensity exercise were investigated following visuomotor skill acquisition on the retention of motor memory in 48 young (24.0 ± 2.5 yrs), healthy male subjects randomly assigned to one of four groups either performing a high intensity (90% Maximal Power Output) exercise bout at 20 min (EX90), 1 h (EX90+1), 2 h (EX90+2) after acquisition or rested (CON). Retention tests were performed at 1 d (R1) and 7 d (R7). At R1 changes in performance scores after acquisition were greater for EX90 than CON () and EX90+2 (). At R7 changes in performance scores for EX90, EX90+1, and EX90+2 were higher than CON (, , and , resp.). Changes for EX90 at R7 were greater than EX90+2 (). Exercise-induced improvements in procedural memory diminish as the temporal proximity of exercise from acquisition is increased. Timing of exercise following motor practice is important for motor memory consolidation.