Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MSc)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Cinelli

Advisor Role

Main Supervisor

Second Advisor

Tom Hazell

Advisor Role



Background: High-intensity exercise provides the greatest benefits to memory. Existing research primarily investigates the effects of chronic exercise interventions on spatial memory, but whether acute high-intensity exercise benefits spatial memory is unknown.

Methods: 10 males and 10 females (23 ± 2 y) were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: 1) sprint interval training (SIT); or 2) no exercise control (CTRL). Before and after the participants’ treatment, spatial memory was assessed using a virtual-reality (VR) hedge maze. Participants were tasked to learn and remember the location of six objects from various start locations, found in the maze during the spatial navigation task. Spatial memory was assessed immediately after treatment and then again 48 hours following the treatment session. Absolute angular error (AE), the angle between the actual location of an object and the estimated location of an object was calculated to quantify participants’ performance (i.e., hippocampal function) on the spatial memory task.

Results: The SIT group exhibited a decrease in AE (i.e., better spatial memory) from pre- and post-treatment to the 48-hour follow-up (p < .001), while there was no improvement in spatial memory in the CTRL group. Moreover, the improvements within the SIT group were only demonstrated at one of the start locations (p = .002), indicating that learning was not consistent at all start locations in the maze.

Conclusion: A single session of SIT led to no discernable improvements in spatial memory immediately post-exercise, however, improved spatial memory was exhibited 48 hours following the experimental session.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Friday, December 11, 2026