Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type



Health, Nutrition and Exercise Science

First Advisor

Dr. Doug Miller


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has recently grown in popularity for use in the general population. According to the ACSM Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, HIIT has been in the top five fitness trends every year since 2014. In addition to being time-efficient and improving cardiac, metabolic, and vascular health, HIIT has positive effects on the brain. Current research demonstrates that even a single bout of HIIT enhances numerous cognitive functions, including executive function, long-term memory, and learning, in lab and academic settings. Additionally, HIIT, when performed regularly, improves learning, memory, executive function, and inhibitory control. Furthermore, HIIT improves motor learning and emotional regulation. These benefits likely occur through a variety of mechanisms involving the regulation of protein expression, including that of GABA, dopamine, epinephrine, and BDNF. Additionally, HIIT improves the efficiency of blood and oxygen utilization in the brain. Thus, the purpose of this review is to identify lesser-known impacts of HIIT on the brain and highlight a few of the mechanisms that may explain these benefits.