Jing Chen, Ph.D.
Aerobic exercise can help motor skill learning by protecting previously learned procedural memory from subsequent interference tasks (for example, subsequent declarative memory). The primary motor cortex may play an important role during this process. When we examine this has happened, we will perform three experiments to see if our hypothesis is true. In the first two experiments, we let participants perform procedural memory immediately followed by declarative memory or a vowel counting task. Then 12 hours later, all participants will return to our lab and finish a retention test. Participants who performed procedural memory immediately followed by declarative memory should have worse performance compared to those who immediately followed by a vowel counting task, because competition may arise from a direct competition between procedural memory and declarative memory. However, after adding an acute bout of aerobic exercise before the subsequent interfering declarative memory task, this interference phenomenon should dissipate. By applying single pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation to the primary motor cortex, we will make a causal relationship between the excitability of the primary motor cortex and the effect of exercise on protecting procedural memory.