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Dodwell, Gordon; Müller, Hermann J.; Töllner, Thomas (2018): Electroencephalographic evidence for improved visual working memory performance during standing and exercise. In: British Journal of Psychology
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Abstract

While a substantial body of research has investigated the effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive performance, few have monitored exercise-concurrent cognitive processes via electroencephalography and fewer still using an event-related potential (ERP) approach. As such, little is known regarding how the temporal dynamics of cognitive processing are influenced during aerobic activity. Here, we aimed to elucidate the influence of aerobic exercise on the temporal dynamics of concurrent visual working memory (VWM) performance. Participants performed a VWM retro-cue task at rest and during aerobic exercise across two postural modalities: seated (using a stationary bicycle) and standing upright (using a treadmill). Three consecutive phases of the VWM processing pipeline were assessed by means of lateralized ERPs: access of VWM representations, response selection, and response execution. Aerobic exercise and upright posture were found to have significant effects on VWM performance, facilitating processing speed in the retro-cue task. This facilitation arose primarily at an intermediary stage between the phases of accessing VWM representations and response selection. Our findings hold implications not only for understanding the influence of aerobic activity on VWM, but also for contemporary models of VWM that are built exclusively on data recorded during stationary, seated conditions.