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The study aimed to investigate the effects of regular physical activity on visuospatial cognition in elderly adults, and to further understand the potential neural mechanisms underpinning such effects. We assessed 24 physically active elderly adults and 24 sedentary counterparts using behavioral and neuroelectric measures during a visuospatial cognitive task with different levels of cognitive load. The results showed that the active group had higher behavioral accuracy along with greater P3 amplitudes, regardless of the level of cognitive load. Moreover, the correlation results revealed that physical activity levels were positively associated with accuracy performance in both conditions, while being correlated with frontal P3 amplitudes in the high cognitively demanding condition. However, no significant effects were observed in terms of P3 latency and contingent negative variation. These findings suggest that regular physical activity might be part of an effective lifestyle to attenuate the trajectory of age-related cognitive declines, thus increasing the likelihood of individuals becoming high-functioning older adults.
Chun-Hao Wang and Chia-Liang Tsai are with the Institute of Physical Education, Health & Leisure Studies, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, University Road, Tainan City, Taiwan.