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JSLHR-20-00359morini_SuppS1.pdf (70.05 kB)

Exercise and word learning (Pruitt & Morini, 2021)

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posted on 2021-04-28, 19:18 authored by Madison Pruitt, Giovanna Morini
Purpose: Previous studies show that there is increased brain activity after exercise, leading to improved word recall in adults. The aim of this study was to examine whether different types of exercise (i.e., aerobic vs. anaerobic) may also lead to improved performance during vocabulary learning in children.
Method: A total of 48 participants (24 in Experiment 1 and 24 in Experiment 2) between the ages of 6 and 12 years completed a word learning task. Training of words took place in a resting and in an exercise condition using a within-subject design. In the resting measure, children were taught names of novel objects and then colored for 3 min before being tested on their ability to recognize the words. In the exercise condition, the same steps were followed, but instead of coloring, children engaged in 3 min of either aerobic exercise (i.e., swimming in Experiment 1) or anaerobic exercise (i.e., a CrossFit-like workout in Experiment 2).
Results: In Experiment 1, accuracy of word recognition was significantly higher for words that were trained in the aerobic exercise compared to the resting condition. In Experiment 2, there was no significant difference in performance between the anaerobic exercise and resting conditions.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that previously identified benefits of exercise on language abilities in adults also extend to school-aged children. However, not all types of physical activity lead to this boost in performance, as only aerobic (but not anaerobic) exercise improved children’s ability to acquire new word–object relations.

Supplemental Material S1. List of nonword stimuli.

Pruitt, M., & Morini, G. (2021). Examining the role of physical activity on word leaning in school-aged children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication.


This work was funded by start-up funds from the University of Delaware.