Our population is leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle resulting in increased rates of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Reduced physical activity not only leads to loss of physical fitness, but also to reduced cognitive performance on tasks requiring attention and memory. Indeed, students who are more physically active perform better academically, and older adults who are more physically active are at a reduced risk of developing dementia. However the mechanisms underlying these exercise-cognition interactions are still unclear. We have several ongoing projects examining the impact of exercise on cognition in younger university students as well as older community members. Our goal is to understand how exercise changes the brain to improve cognitive outcomes using a variety of neuroimaging and biomarker analyses. This research will help inform how to effectively implement an exercise program for optimizing brain function.

Cognition & Physical Activity


The Silhouette [READ IT HERE]

"Is exercise beneficial during midterm season?"

Oct 6, 2016


Expert Opinion by Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz


New research argues the time investment will increase your academic performance

McMaster Daily News [READ IT HERE]

"What if classroom lectures included exercise breaks?"

June 30, 2016


Expert Opinion by Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz

Heisz, J.J., Clark, I.B., Bonin, K., Paolucci, E., Michalski, B., Becker, S., Fahnestock, M., (in press). Examining the effects of physical exercise and cognitive training on memory and neurotrophic factors. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.



Heisz, J.J., Vandermorris, S., Wu, J., and McIntosh, A.R. (2015). Age differences in the association of physical activity, sociocognitive engagement, and TV viewing on face memory.

Health Psychology. 34(1): 83-88.



Clark, I.B., and Heisz, J.J. (2014). Synergistic benefits of combined physical exercise and cognitive training on memory. Journal of Exercise, Movement, and Sport. 46(1).



Heisz, J.J., Vakorin, V., Ross, B., Levine, B., and McIntosh, A.R. (2014). A trade-off between local and distributed information processing associated with remote episodic versus semantic memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience. 26(1):41-53.



Heisz, J.J., Pottruff, M.M., and Shore, D.I. (2013). Females Scan More Than Males: A Potential Mechanism for Sex Differences in Recognition Memory. Psychological Science. 24(7):1157-63



National Geographic


February 2014


Expert Opinion by Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz


The article discusses research from kinesiologist Jennifer Heisz of McMaster University in Canada involving the ability of men and women to remember faces, with information on the eye movements of each gender, how the brain memorizes visual information, and memory loss treatment.


"Women are better at remembering new faces (and here's how we do it)"

June 6, 2013

Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz  | Assistant Professor | Department of Kinesiology | Ivor Wynne Centre, Room E206 | McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8