When aerobic exercise is performed following skilled motor practice, it can enhance motor memory consolidation. Previous studies have suggested that dopamine may play a role in motor memory consolidation, but whether it is involved in the exercise effects on consolidation is unknown. Hence, we aimed to investigate the influence of dopaminergic pathways on the exercise-induced modulation of motor memory consolidation. We compared the effect of acute exercise on motor memory consolidation between the genotypes that are known to affect dopaminergic transmission and learning. By combining cluster analyses and fitting linear models with and without included polymorphisms, we provide preliminary evidence that exercise benefits the carriers of alleles that are associated with low synaptic dopamine content. In line with previous reports, our findings implicate dopamine as a modulator of the exercise-induced effects on motor memory consolidation, and suggest exercise as a potential clinical tool to counteract low endogenous dopamine bioavailability. Further experiments are needed to establish causal relations.
Keywords: consolidation; dopamine; dopamine receptor; genetics; motor learning; physical activity; single-nucleotide polymorphisms.