Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches and Lectures


The Impact of Music and Exercise on Learning and Memory

Event Title

Psychonomic Society 62nd Annual Meeting

Event Location


Document Type


Presentation Date


Date Range

2021-11-04 to 2021-11-07


Research has demonstrated the benefits of moderate aerobic exercise on cognitive function (Coles & Tomporowski, 2008; Skriver et al., 2014). One explanation for why exercise improves cognition is arousal. Davey (1973) saw exercise as a stressor which would induce increases in arousal as intensity rose and moderate intensity exercise would induce a level of arousal related to optimal cognitive performance relative to high and low intensity activity. The present study compared the arousal effects of music and exercise on cognitive abilities. In the study, participants were placed in one of four conditions: listen to arousing music for 6 minutes; listen to arousing music for 20 minutes; run on a treadmill for 6 minutes; or run on a treadmill for 20 minutes. Participants’ level of arousal was assessed before and after completing their condition. Following each condition, participants performed a paired-associates learning (PAL) task. In the task, participants were presented with 40 word pairs to learn and later recall. Our results compare learning rate on the PAL task and long-term recall between the four conditions.