Interesting article here  (thanks to Charles Fernyhough on Twitter for the link) on memory perfomance and activity.

This research that shows  that memory performance can be boosted by walking compared with sitting down.

The headline finding was that the working memory performance of both age groups improved when walking at their chosen speed compared with when sitting or walking at a fixed speed set by the researchers. This was especially the case for more difficult versions of the working memory task, and was more pronounced among the children than the adults. So, this would appear to be clear case of mental performance actually being superior in a dual-task situation.

 Why should the secondary task of walking aid, rather impair, mental performance? The researchers aren’t sure of the mechanism, but they think the attentional pool tapped by a sensori-motor task like walking is likely separate from the attentional pool tapped by working memory. Moreover, physical activity increases arousal and activation, ‘which then can be invested into the cognitive task,’ they said.

It is often argued that children with specific learning difficulties ‘have more problems than healthy controls when they have to divide their attention between two concurrent tasks.’ However, this research indicates that the opposite is in fact the case. So get those kids moving – at a brisk but self determined pace – and you might find that their working memory (and hence learning in general) improves.

Worth a try!

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