Aquatic motor activity (AMA) has been reported to affect motor and cognitive abilities. However, the neural mechanisms that may mediate this relationship have never been explored. The traditional functions of the cerebellum include involvement in coordination and balance. Recent studies have shown cerebellar activity during verbal working memory (VWM) tasks. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of AMA on VWM and changes in cerebellar activity. Twenty-four subjects were allocated to 1 month of AMA, on-land motor activity or nonmotor activity intervention. We examined the effects of intervention on VWM ability using the digit span task. Using magnetoencephalography, we measured changes in alpha power. Our results demonstrate that the AMA significantly improved VWM. Moreover, improved VWM was positively correlated with increased right cerebellar alpha power. These results support previous studies regarding the cerebellar region's role in VWM, and demonstrate that VWM can be improved by AMA.
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Acknowledgments— Michal Nissim is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship. This study was supported by the Italy–Israel R&D Cooperation Program (Grant number 44186) awarded to Joseph Glicksohn and Tal Dotan Ben-Soussan. The authors thank Ori Sellas’s Water World for the use of the swimming pool for this research.
© 2018 International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.