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The past two decades have uncovered the beneficial relation of physical activity and other health behaviors on brain and cognition, with the majority of data emerging from older adult populations. More recently, a similar research thread has emerged in school-aged children, which offers insight into the relation of physical activity to scholastic performance, providing a real-world application of the benefits observed in the laboratory. Technological advances have similarly furthered our understanding of physical activity effects on cognitive and brain health. Given this emerging body of work, this manuscript reviews the basic findings within the field, but more importantly suggests triggers or signals from the emerging literature that will shape the field in the near future. The overall goal of this body of research is to increase cognitive and brain health to promote effective functioning of individuals across the lifespan.
Hillman is with the Department of Psychology and Department of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA. Erickson is with the Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA. Hatfield is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD.