This study investigated the effects of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE) on behavioral performance and neural correlates of working memory. Thirty-six 18–30 years adults were recruited to perform a 20-min bout of HIIT, MICE, and rest on separate days in counterbalanced order. Following interventions, frontal alpha event-related desynchronization (ERD) was measured during a modified Sternberg task requiring varying amounts of working memory (3-, 5-, 7-letter tasks). Behavioral analyses showed a condition effect, indicating shorter response times following HIIT compared to rest. Analysis of frontal alpha ERD showed an interaction of condition and task, indicating no differences across tasks following rest but a task effect following HIIT and MICE, with frontal alpha ERD increasing in the 7-letter task compared with the 3-letter task. Following HIIT, this task-related contrast of frontal alpha ERD extended to the time period when memory retrieval occurred. Although both HIIT and MICE resulted in alterations in neuroelectric underpinnings of memory encoding and retention in response to increased memory load, only HIIT enhanced the processing speed and brain activation during memory retrieval. These findings provide evidence for potential applications of exercise to enhance working memory and the role of exercise type to such effect.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)