Go Climb a Tree (to Improve Cognitive Skills) If you’re looking to beef up your cognitive skills, try climbing a tree, balancing on a beam or running barefoot. Participating in these types of dynamic activities for just a few hours may have a significant effect on your working memory, according to researchers at the University of North Florida. ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   October 01, 2015
Go Climb a Tree (to Improve Cognitive Skills)
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Professional Issues & Training / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   October 01, 2015
Go Climb a Tree (to Improve Cognitive Skills)
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.20102015.16
The ASHA Leader, October 2015, Vol. 20, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB2.20102015.16
If you’re looking to beef up your cognitive skills, try climbing a tree, balancing on a beam or running barefoot.
Participating in these types of dynamic activities for just a few hours may have a significant effect on your working memory, according to researchers at the University of North Florida.
“Improving working memory can have a beneficial effect on so many areas in our life, and it’s exciting to see that proprioceptive activities [that require awareness of body position and orientation] can enhance it in such a short period of time,” says Tracy Alloway, associate professor in the school’s psychology department and co-author of the study, led by research associate Ross Alloway and published in Perceptual and Motor Skills.
The authors tested the working memory of 18 adults ages 18 to 59 before and after the participants completed a variety of dynamic activities over two hours, such as climbing trees; walking or crawling on a narrow beam; running barefoot while concentrating on landing on the ball of the foot with bent knees; navigating over, under and around obstacles; carrying awkwardly weighted objects. All the activities required proprioception and at least one additional element, such as route planning or locomotion.
Following completion of the exercises, participants’ working memory capacity increased by as much as 50 percent. The researchers also tested two control groups—a college class learning new information and a yoga class performing static poses that required balance—though neither showed an effect on working memory.
The results demonstrate the importance of adults and children taking breaks to do unpredictable activities that “require us to consciously adapt our movements,” says Ross Alloway, allowing us to reap the benefits in school, at work and beyond.
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October 2015
Volume 20, Issue 10