ISGlobal: Physical activity in early childhood favours the development of working memory

ISGlobal: Physical activity in early childhood favours the development of working memory

News from ISGlobal

What effects do physical activity and sedentary behaviour have on the working memory of children and adolescents? A new study by researchers from ISGlobal has found that a low level of physical activity at preschool and primary-school age is associated with poorer working-memory performance at primary-school age and in adolescence, respectively.

This study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, formed part of the INMA - Environment and Childhood Project. A total of 1,400 children and adolescents from Menorca, Valencia, Sabadell and Gipuzkoa underwent neuropsychological testing and data on their lifestyle habits were collected through a questionnaire administered to the parents. Healthy habits such as physical activity are considered to be a fundamental prerequisite for the development of basic cognitive, motor and social skills in children. One of the most important functions for learning and academic achievement is working memory, that is, the ability to hold information in short-term storage for cognitive processing.

The study found that children who had a low level of extracurricular physical activity at 6 years of age scored significantly lower on memory tests during adolescence than their more active peers. The same association was found in 7-year-olds who had had low levels of physical activity at age 4 years, although the effect size was smaller. The study also found that sedentary behaviour in early childhood may negatively influence cognitive maturation during adolescence, but only in boys.

More information:
ISGlobal website

Reference work:
Mónica López-Vicente, Judith Garcia-Aymerich, Jaume Torrent-Pallicer, Joan Forns, Jesús Ibarluzea, Nerea Lertxundi, Llúcia González, Desirée Valera-Gran, Maties Torrent, Payam Dadvand, Martine Vrijheid, Jordi Sunyer. “Are early physical activity and sedentary behaviors related to working memory at 7 and 14 years of age?” Journal of Pediatrics