Dual-Task Interference Between Swimming and Verbal Memory.

Document Type


Publication Date



Department of Biomedical Engineering


OBJECTIVE: A dual-task study was performed to explore the performance effects for swimming, word recall, and the combination of the two tasks performed simultaneously.

BACKGROUND: Dual-task interference studies have been performed for a variety of tasks; however, there has not been much dual-task interference research where one of the tasks is a naturalistic physically strenuous task. Swimming is a unique physical task that requires spatial orientation on three dimensional axes, similar to that of flying, but has no risk of falling. Previous studies have been conducted in other activity combinations with word-free recall, such as running and climbing, but swimming has yet to be explored.

METHOD: A verbal memory recall task and swimming task were performed in isolated (single-task) and simultaneous conditions. A comparison of effects across these different activities was also explored.

RESULTS: Swimming and the word-recall task resulted in significant dual-task interference: almost as much as when word recall was paired with another verbal task, but more than running and less than climbing.

CONCLUSION: Consistent with other dual-task studies, this study observed dual-task interference between the physical swimming task and the cognitive verbal memory task.

APPLICATION: Future technologies and training for personnel who engage in water rescue or commercial diving, such as underwater welding and fiber optic cable, may be improved by these findings.

Publisher's Statement

Copyright © 2019, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018720819871743

Publication Title

Human factors