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Copy of Exercising Your Mind

AP Biology Independent Project
by

Hannah Coburn

on 10 June 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Exercising Your Mind

Exercising Your Mind By Hannah Coburn Materials and Methods Results and Conslusions Introduction It's a known fact that exercise is a great way to keep our bodies healthy, and to stay physically fit; but does exercise also have an impact on our mental fitness, helping us to improve our memory and cognitive abilities? The purpose of my experiment is to explore the relationship between exercise and mental fitness, in order to determine whether or not exercising on a regular basis can help people to condition their minds as well as their bodies. The materials I used for this experiment were:
*1 Original Memory Game
*1 Rhyming Match-Me Game
*1 Stopwatch Timer
*7 Participants per Game Graphs and Data Collection Current Research This is a topic that has grown in popularity in recent years, so there is plenty of existing current research that addresses the question of physical exercise and how it affects brain health. One of the most conclusive pieces of research performed so far on the subject was conducted by Colcombe and Kramer, who analyzed the results of 18 studies conducted on this topic, in which participants were randomly assigned to an aerobic exercise group or a control (no exercise) group. Over time, the cognitive performance of the participants in each group was measured and recorded. The results clearly suggested that the group who was assigned to regular aerobic exercise held better cognitive function as healthy adults aged 55 to 80 years old. Research with animals has been able to help figure out the actual effect of exercise on the brain - one study showed that increased aerobic fitness in mice can increase the number of cells formed in one of the brain's primary memory centers, the hippocampus. Another study, conducted on humans, showed that a group of adults who engaged in regular aerobic activity for 6 months had increased brain volume in several areas when compared with control groups engaging in no exercise, or in other anaerobic exercises, such as strength training. Researchers expect that this change occurs because the exercise increases the number of blood vessels and neural connections in the brain (Physical Exercise and Brain Health). Hypothesis and Project Summary For my project, I will be doing a short experiment to see if a quick period of exercise affects the rate of cognitive function, based on the time it takes participants to complete two different "brain" games - classic memory and rhyming matching - both before and after performing aerobic activity. I hypothesized that participants would be able to perform the games more quickly after exercise, due to the increased blood flow to the brain. Procedure 1. First, I had to set up each game. For the Original Memory Game, I chose 15 pairs of cards for people to match, and set them up face down after shuffling them. For the Rhyming Match Me game, I sorted out the pairs, and separated them into two groups of 15 pairs per group. With each pair, I put one card picture side up, and the other card word side up, so that participants would have to match the picture with the corresponding word with which it rhymes.
2. I had each participant perform the initial round of the experiment by timing how long it took them to match each pair in the Original Memory Game, and then how long it took them to find each rhyming pair in the first set of the rhyming cards.
3. I had each participant perform a physical activity for a short amount of time - 5 participants did jumping jacks (aerobic activity) for 90 seconds, 1 participant did pushups (anaerobic activity) for 60 seconds, and 1 participant, the control, did no exercise.
4. After the exercise, each participant was timed in another round of the brain games by completing the same original memory game, and the second set of the rhyming match me game. All times were recorded in the data table. Experimental Controls There were a couple of ways I ensured experimental controls in my project. First, I had a control participant who did not perform any exercise in between each round of memory games, to be used as a point of reference against the experimental results. Another control I used was separating the rhyming game into two sets, one for before the exercise and one for after. I did this so that participants would not have already seen the cards they were trying to rhyme before doing the game a second time, so that any change in speed would, theoretically, be based on the performance of the exercise, rather than because they already had a memory of the cards. Analysis of Results Based on my results, I can not fully accept my hypothesis for this experiment. The data that I collected was not conclusive about whether or not short periods of exercise were effective in improving the times it took the participants to complete the memory-related games. While some people did improve their times after exercise, others were much slower on the second round. Since there is evidence from previous research in this field to suggest that regular exercise does improve cognitive function, however, I am hesitant to completely reject my hypothesis. The results I obtained could have been based on flaws in my experiment, such as too short of an observation period. If I were to repeat this experiment, I expect that my results would be improved if I were able to observe participants over a much longer period of time and use different tests to show a progression of improvement rather than just testing them a single time after only a minute and a half of exercise. I would also use more participants from multiple age groups so that my results should be more representative of the population as a whole.
Jenkins, D. E. (2013, January 10). The Brain-Body Connection: Can Exercise Really Make Our Brains Work Better?. Science Fair Project Ideas, Answers, & Tools. Retrieved June 5, 2013, from http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project_ideas/Sports_p011.shtml#procedure


Michelon, D. P. (2008, June 26). Physical Exercise and Brain Health | SharpBrains. Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health Authority: Market Research and Advisory Services | SharpBrains. Retrieved June 5, 2013, from http://sharpbrains.com/blog/2008/06/26/physical-exercise-and-brain-health/ References
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