Aerobic Fitness and Context Processing in Preadolescent Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

There is a growing trend of inactivity among children, which may not only result in poorer physical health but also poorer cognitive health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between aerobic fitness and proactive and reactive cognitive control using a continuous performance task (CPT).

Methods:

Forty-eight 9- to 10-year-old children (n = 24 higher fit [HF] and n = 24 lower fit [LF]) performed an AX-CPT requiring them to respond to target cue-probe pairs (AX) or nontarget pairs (AY, BX, BY) under 2 different trial duration conditions, which modulated working memory demands.

Results:

Across trials and conditions, HF children had greater accuracy than LF children. For target trials, the long duration resulted in lower accuracy than the short duration. For nontarget trials, an interaction of duration and trial was observed, indicating that the long duration resulted in decreased BX and BY accuracy relative to the short duration. AY trials had greater accuracy during the long duration compared with the short duration.

Conclusions:

These data suggest that fitness may modulate cognitive control strategies during tasks requiring context updating and maintenance, key components of working memory and further support aerobic fitness as a marker of cognitive and brain health in children.

Raine (lraine2@illinois.edu), Scudder, Saliba, and Hillman are with the Dept of Kinesiology; Kramer is with the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.