• Acute physical exercise can influence the accuracy of metacognitive judgments

      Palmer, Matthew; Stefanidis, Kayla; Turner, Ashlee; Tranent, Peter; Breen, Rachel; Kucina, Talira; Brumby, Laura; Holt, Glenys; Fell, James; Sauer, James; et al. (Nature, 2019-08-27)
      Acute exercise generally benefits memory but little research has examined how exercise affects metacognition (knowledge of memory performance). We show that a single bout of exercise can influence metacognition in paired-associate learning. Participants completed 30- min of moderate-intensity exercise before or after studying a series of word pairs (cloudivory), and completed cued-recall (cloud-?; Experiments 1 & 2) and recognition memory tests (cloud-? spoon; ivory; drill; choir; Experiment 2). Participants made judgments of learning prior to cued-recall tests (JOLs; predicted likelihood of recalling the second word of each pair when shown the first) and feeling-of-knowing judgments prior to recognition tests (FOK; predicted likelihood of recognizing the second word from four alternatives). Compared to noexercise control conditions, exercise before encoding enhanced cued-recall in Experiment 1 but not Experiment 2 and did not affect recognition. Exercise after encoding did not influence memory. In conditions where exercise did not benefit memory, it increased JOLs and FOK judgments relative to accuracy (Experiments 1 & 2) and impaired the relative accuracy of JOLs (ability to distinguish remembered from non-remembered items; Experiment 2). Acute exercise seems to signal likely remembering; this has implications for understanding the effects of exercise on metacognition, and for incorporating exercise into study routines.