The purpose of the present commentary is to introduce relevant issues with respect to the measurement of executive function in physical activity studies. Suggested definitions of executive function are introduced, and executive function tasks that are commonly used in the neuropsychological literature are presented and briefly described. The extant literature on physical activity and cognition is discussed, and issues relative to the limitations of this body of literature are raised. In summary, research on the effect of physical activity on executive function is still in its infancy. We encourage researchers in this field to provide a clear definition of executive function, to carefully consider the relevance of published effect sizes to their own research questions, and to consider either providing a logical rationale for their selection of particular executive function measures or to use multiple measures of executive function when exploring relationships between physical activity and executive function.
Yu-Kai Chang and Jennifer L. Etnier
The purpose of this study was to explore the dose-response relationship between resistance exercise intensity and cognitive performance. Sixty-eight participants were randomly assigned into control, 40%, 70%, or 100% of 10-repetition maximal resistance exercise groups. Participants were tested on Day 1 (baseline) and on Day 2 (measures were taken relative to performance of the treatment). Heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, self-reported arousal, and affect were assessed on both days. Cognitive performance was assessed on Day 1 and before and following treatment on Day 2. Results from regression analyses indicated that there is a significant linear effect of exercise intensity on information processing speed, and a significant quadratic trend for exercise intensity on executive function. Thus, there is a dose-response relationship between the intensity of resistance exercise and cognitive performance such that high-intensity exercise benefits speed of processing, but moderate intensity exercise is most beneficial for executive function.
Yu-Kai Chang, Chien-Yu Pan, Feng-Tzu Chen, Chia-Liang Tsai and Chi-Chang Huang
Several studies have demonstrated that exercise helps reduce or prevent cognitive deterioration among older adults, and recent studies have further examined the effects of resistance-exercise training on cognition. The purpose of this review was to examine the role of resistance-exercise training on cognition in healthy older adults. Specifically, it describes the definition, health benefits, and the design of resistance-exercise training. The authors also review the research related to resistance exercises and cognition and found that this exercise modality may enhance specific cognitive performances. Next, they examine the potential mechanisms underlying resistance exercise and cognitive enhancement. Finally, they consider potential therapeutics and recommendations for further research on resistance-exercise training and cognition in older adults.
Lisa A. Barella, Jennifer L. Etnier and Yu-Kai Chang
Research on the acute effects of exercise on cognitive performance by older adults is limited by a focus on nonhealthy populations. Furthermore, the duration of cognitive improvements after exercise has not been examined. Thus, this study was designed to test the immediate and delayed effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance of healthy older adults. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Stroop task. Participants were randomly assigned to an exercise (20 min of walking) or control (sitting quietly) condition. The Stroop task was administered at baseline and at 12 time points after treatment. Acute exercise resulted in better Stroop test performance immediately postexercise; however, the effects were limited to the color test. No effects of exercise on performance were observed for the Stroop interference or inhibition tests. Findings suggest that acute exercise performed by healthy older adults has short-term benefits for speed of processing but does not affect other types of cognitive functioning.
Yu-Kai Chang, Yu-Hsiang Nien, Chia-Liang Tsai and Jennifer L. Etnier
The purpose of this article is to review the potential of Tai Chi Chuan as a mode of physical activity that could have cognitive benefits for older adults and to provide potential directions for future research. A brief introduction to Tai Chi Chuan and its related physical benefits is provided. In addition, the empirical literature related to Tai Chi Chuan and cognition is reviewed. Potential mediators of the relationship between Tai Chi Chuan and cognition, including physical resources, disease status, and mental resources, are discussed. Based on the limitations of the extant literature, it is argued that future research in this area must provide more detailed descriptions of Tai Chi Chuan, particularly in terms of intensity and program progression. Consideration of the specific type of cognition that is expected to benefit is also encouraged, and approaches for further efforts to understand how Tai Chi Chuan affects cognition are recommended.
Shu-Shih Hsieh, Yu-Kai Chang, Chin-Lung Fang and Tsung-Min Hung
The current study examined the effects of acute resistance exercise (RE) on adult males’ attention control. Eighteen younger males (23.9 ± 2.3 years) and 17 older males (66.4 ± 1.2 years) were recruited. Participants underwent a RE session and a reading session in a counterbalanced order. RE protocol required individuals to perform two sets of 10 repetitions of eight exercises using weights set at 70% of 10-repetition maximum. Attention control was assessed by go/no-go SART with intraindividual variability in reaction times (IIV in RT), in addition to reaction time and accuracy, employed as measures of attention control. Results indicated that IIV in RT was smaller following RE sessions than after reading sessions for both age groups. In addition, RTs were shorter after the exercise session. These findings suggest that RE enhances attention control in adult males and that the size of this effect is not moderated by age.
Ming-Yang Cheng, Chung-Ju Huang, Yu-Kai Chang, Dirk Koester, Thomas Schack and Tsung-Min Hung
Sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) activity has been related to automaticity during skilled action execution. However, few studies have bridged the causal link between SMR activity and sports performance. This study investigated the effect of SMR neurofeedback training (SMR NFT) on golf putting performance. We hypothesized that preelite golfers would exhibit enhanced putting performance after SMR NFT. Sixteen preelite golfers were recruited and randomly assigned into either an SMR or a control group. Participants were asked to perform putting while electroencephalogram (EEG) was recorded, both before and after intervention. Our results showed that the SMR group performed more accurately when putting and exhibited greater SMR power than the control group after 8 intervention sessions. This study concludes that SMR NFT is effective for increasing SMR during action preparation and for enhancing golf putting performance. Moreover, greater SMR activity might be an EEG signature of improved attention processing, which induces superior putting performance.
Feng-Tzu Chen, Su-Ru Chen, I-Hua Chu, Jen-Hao Liu and Yu-Kai Chang
This study examines the effect of a 12-week multicomponent exercise intervention on metacognition among preadolescents with obesity. Seventy-five preadolescents were randomly assigned to either a multicomponent exercise group or a reading control group. An exercise intervention consisting of a jumping rope was utilized to develop multifaceted fitness features, with each session lasting for 75 min and three sessions being conducted per week for 12 weeks. Results revealed significant interactions between group and time point for cardiovascular fitness, muscular endurance, flexibility, and power, as well as for Tower of London task measures, including total move score, total executive time, and total planning-solving time, with better postintervention performances achieved by the exercise group. Positive correlations between the physical fitness and metacognition measurements were also observed. These findings suggest that the multicomponent exercise benefits metacognition in obese preadolescents, with exercise-associated changes in multifaceted fitness features mediating the relationship between exercise and metacognition.
Chun-Chih Wang, Chien-Heng Chu, I-Hua Chu, Kuei-Hui Chan and Yu-Kai Chang
This study was designed to examine the modulation of executive functions during acute exercise and to determine whether exercise intensity moderates this relationship. Eighty college-aged adults were recruited and randomly assigned into one of the four following groups: control, 30%, 50%, and 80% heart rate reserve. The Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) was administered during each intervention. The results indicated that the majority of the WCST performances were impaired in the high exercise intensity group relative to those of the other three groups, whereas similar performance rates were maintained in the low- and moderate-intensity groups. These findings suggest that transient hypofrontality occurs during high-intensity exercise, but not during low- and moderate-intensity exercises. Future research aimed at employing the dual-mode theory, and applying the reticular-activating hypofrontality model is recommended to further the current knowledge.
Yu-Kai Chang, I-Hua Chu, Feng-Tzu Chen and Chun-Chih Wang
The present research attempts to evaluate the dose-response relationship between acute resistance exercise and planning. Seventeen participants performed the Tower of London (TOL) in control condition and three different exercise intensity conditions (40%, 70%, and 100% 10-repetition maximal) in a counterbalanced order. The results revealed positive effects of an acute bout of resistance exercise on the TOL. Specifically, a curvilinear trend was observed between exercise intensity and TOL scores that measured performances of “correct” and “move,” where moderate intensity demonstrated the most optimal performance compared with the other conditions. None of these differences were found in TOL scores that measure performances of “violation” and “planning speed.” These results suggest that acute moderate intensity resistance exercise could facilitate planning-related executive functions in middle-aged adults.