HALO post-doctoral fellow Dr. Jeremy Walsh is lead author on a paper, “Brief, High-Intensity Interval Exercise Improves Selective Attention in University Students,” that was recently published in the International Journal of Exercise Science. Citation details and a summary of the paper are below.

Walsh, Jeremy J.; Dunlap, Charlotte; Miranda, Jonathan; Thorp, David B.; Kimmerly, Derek S.; Tschakovsky, Michael; and Gurd, B J. (2018) “Brief, High-Intensity Interval Exercise Improves Selective Attention in University Students,” International Journal of Exercise Science: Vol. 11 : Iss. 5, Pages 152 – 167.


This study aimed to investigate the effect of very brief, high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) on selective attention in university students. As a follow-up, we investigated whether HIIE performed prior to a university lecture improves retention of lecture material. A single-group counterbalanced post-test only design was used for this study. 22 university students (19 females; age = 20.0 ±1.0 years) performed a HIIE and control visit on separate days. During the HIIE session, participants performed 4 separate body-weight exercises for 1 set each, consisting of eight 20 s intervals interspersed with 10 s rest, totaling 11 minutes in duration, including rest. 10 minutes following exercise cessation, participants completed the d2 test of attention. The control visit consisted of quiet reading followed by completion of the d2. Selective attention, as assessed by the d2 test of attention was significantly greater following a bout of HIIE compared to the control condition. Effect size analysis revealed a moderate effect in favour of HIIE compared to control (d = 0.459 [0.171, 0.747]). Study #2: 23 university students (17 females; age = 19.0 ±0.5 years) performed HIIE and a rest condition prior to attending an exercise physiology lecture on separate days. A quiz was administered 24-hours post-lecture to assess lecture retention. Quiz performance was not different between HIIE and control conditions (p = 0.18). HIIE is a time-effective exercise stimulus that improves selective attention. However, performing HIIE prior to a university lecture did not impact retention of lecture material.

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