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Margie E. Lachman, Shevaun D. Neupert, Rosanna Bertrand and Alan M. Jette

The authors examined whether resistance training has an effect on working memory span. Participants included 210 community-residing older adults with at least one disability from the Strong for Life program, a randomized controlled trial that examined the effects of home-based resistance exercise. Memory was assessed with the WAIS backward digit span at baseline and 3 and 6 months into the intervention. Although there were no differences between the experimental treatment and control groups in average levels of memory change, within the treatment group change in resistance level during the intervention was a significant predictor of memory change, controlling for age, education, sex, and disability level. The results suggest that strength training can benefit memory among older adults, especially when using higher resistance levels.

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Spyridoula Vazou and Ann Smiley-Oyen

Classroom-based physical activity is a new approach aiming to improve both physical activity levels and academic achievement. This study investigated the acute effect of a 10-min bout of aerobic physical activity integrated with math practice, compared with a seated math practice, on executive function and enjoyment among normal-weight (n = 24) and overweight children (n = 11). Thirty-five typically developing prepubescent children (10.55 ± 0.74 years) completed a session of physical activity integrated with math practice and a seated math practice session in counterbalanced order. Results showed that following integrated physical activity, the response time in the Standard Flanker improved more than after seated practice. Among the overweight children, physical activity benefitted performance in the Standard Flanker by preventing the decline associated with seated practice. Children enjoyed the physical activity practice more than the seated practice. These findings suggest that integrating physical activity with academic instruction may be a realistic strategy for promoting physical activity because it may facilitate, not antagonize, executive function.

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Koen Put, Marcus V.C. Baldo, André M. Cravo, Johan Wagemans and Werner F. Helsen

In association football, the flash-lag effect appears to be a viable explanation for erroneous offside decision making. Due to this spatiotemporal illusion, assistant referees (ARs) perceive the player who receives the ball ahead of his real position. In this experiment, a laboratory decision-making task was used to demonstrate that international top-class ARs, compared with amateur soccer players, do not have superior perceptual sensitivity. They clearly modify their decision criterion according to the contextual needs and, therefore, show a higher response bias toward not responding to the stimulus, in particular in the most difficult situations. Thus, international ARs show evidence for response-level compensation, resulting in a specific cost (i.e., more misses), which clearly reflects the use of particular (cognitive) strategies. In summary, it appears that experts in offside decision making can be distinguished from novices more on the cognitive or decision-making level than on the perceptual level.

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José M. Cancela, M Helena Vila Suárez,, Jamine Vasconcelos, Ana Lima and Carlos Ayán

This study evaluates the impact of Brain Gym (BG) training in active older adults. Eighty-five participants were assigned to four training groups: BG (n = 18), BG plus water-based exercise (n = 18), land-based exercise (n = 30), and land plus water-based exercise (n = 19). The effects of the programs on the attention and memory functions were assessed by means of the symbol digit modality test. The two-min step and the eight-foot up-and-go tests were used to evaluate their impact on fitness level. No program had a significant influence on the participant’s cognitive performance, while different effects on the sample’ fitness levels were observed. These findings suggest that the effects of BG on the cognitive performance and fitness level of active older adults are similar to those obtained after the practice of a traditional exercise program. Whether BG is performed in isolation or combined with other exercise programs seems to have no influence on such effects.

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Fabien D. Legrand, William M. Bertucci and Joanne Hudson

A crossover experiment was performed to determine whether age and sex, or their interaction, affect the impact of acute aerobic exercise on vigor-activity (VA). We also tested whether changes in VA mediated exercise effects on performance on various cognitive tasks. Sixty-eight physically inactive volunteers participated in exercise and TV-watching control conditions. They completed the VA subscale of the Profile of Mood States immediately before and 2 min after the intervention in each condition. They also performed the Trail Making Test 3 min after the intervention in each condition. Statistical analyses produced a condition × age × sex interaction characterized by a higher mean VA gain value in the exercise condition (compared with the VA gain value in the TV-watching condition) for young female participants only. In addition, the mediational analyses revealed that changes in VA fully mediated the effects of exercise on TMT-Part A performance.

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Kelly Birch, Merritt ten Hope, Michael Malek-Ahmadi, Kathy O’Connor, Sharon Schofield, David Coon and Walter Nieri

Previous research has found that increased physical activity may provide a protective effect on depression status; however, these studies do not account for cognitive function. This study’s aim was to determine whether cognitive function mediates the association between physical activity depression status in older adults. Data from 501 older adults were used for this analysis. Physical activity had a significant protective effect on depression (OR = 0.761, 95% CI [0.65, 0.89], p = .001). Adjusted analysis yielded an attenuated association (OR = 0.81, 95% CI [0.69, 0.95], p = .01) with a significant interaction for physical activity and cognitive function (OR = 0.991, 95% CI [0.985, 0.997], p = .005). MoCA performance also had a significant mediating effect on the relationship between physical activity and depression status (p = .04). These findings suggest that cognitive function is associated with, and does mediate, the relationship between physical activity and depression status.

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Anneke G. van der Niet, Joanne Smith, Jaap Oosterlaan, Erik J.A. Scherder, Esther Hartman and Chris Visscher

The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of a physical activity program including both aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities on children’s physical fitness and executive functions. Children from 3 primary schools (aged 8–12 years) were recruited. A quasi-experimental design was used. Children in the intervention group (n = 53; 19 boys, 34 girls) participated in a 22-week physical activity program for 30 min during lunch recess, twice a week. Children in the control group (n = 52; 32 boys, 20 girls) followed their normal lunch routine. Aerobic fitness, speed and agility, and muscle strength were assessed using the Eurofit test battery. Executive functions were assessed using tasks measuring inhibition (Stroop test), working memory (Visual Memory Span test, Digit Span test), cognitive flexibility (Trailmaking test), and planning (Tower of London). Children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than children in the control group on the Stroop test and Digit Span test, reflecting enhanced inhibition and verbal working memory skills, respectively. No differences were found on any of the physical fitness variables. A physical activity program including aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities can enhance aspects of executive functioning in primary school children.

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Phillip D. Tomporowski and Michel Audiffren

Thirty-one young (mean age = 20.8 years) and 30 older (mean age = 71.5 years) men and women categorized as physically active (n = 30) or inactive (n = 31) performed an executive processing task while standing, treadmill walking at a preferred pace, and treadmill walking at a faster pace. Dual-task interference was predicted to negatively impact older adults’ cognitive flexibility as measured by an auditory switch task more than younger adults; further, participants’ level of physical activity was predicted to mitigate the relation. For older adults, treadmill walking was accompanied by significantly more rapid response times and reductions in local- and mixed-switch costs. A speed-accuracy tradeoff was observed in which response errors increased linearly as walking speed increased, suggesting that locomotion under dual-task conditions degrades the quality of older adults’ cognitive flexibility. Participants’ level of physical activity did not influence cognitive test performance.

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J.C. Norling, Jim Sibthorp and Edward Ruddell

Background:

The purpose of this study was to develop the Perceived Restorativeness for Activities Scale (PRAS) based on the conceptual framework of attention-restoration theory (ART). ART suggests that 4 latent constructs (being away, fascination, extent, and compatibility) must be present to enable a switch from voluntary (effortful, directed) attention to involuntary (effortless) attention and facilitate restored attention.

Method:

Data were collected from 238 participants in a variety of university exercise classes. Exploratory factor analysis reduced items to a parsimonious 12-item scale. Confirmatory factor analysis tested the best fit between a 1-dimensional versus a 4-factor solution.

Results:

The Cronbach alpha was .925. The significant analysis (P < .001) suggested that the model with 4 distinct subscales has the best data fit (goodness-of-fit index = .94, standardized root-mean-square residual = .041, incremental-fit index = .98, expected-cross-validation index = .66, comparative-fit index = .98). Composite reliability and variance extracted were calculated for each construct represented by ART: being away, .81, .59; fascination, .79, .63; extent, .89, .78; and compatibility, .68, .42.

Conclusion:

The 12-item, 4-factor solution of the PRAS can help researchers understand the within-individual preconceptions toward the activity experience that can influence cognitive restoration.

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Kevin M. Antshel, Laura E. VanderDrift and Jeffrey S. Pauline

The NCAA Growth, Opportunities, Aspirations and Learning of Students in College data were used to explore the relationship between self-reported high levels of difficulties thinking or concentrating and grade point average (GPA) in college student-athletes. We specifically investigated the mediators of the relationship between self-reported high levels of difficulties thinking or concentrating and GPA. Results revealed there was a significant indirect effect between self-reporting the highest level of difficulties thinking or concentrating and service use through GPA, moderated by identity, full model: F(4, 14738) = 184.28, p < .001; R 2 = .22. The athletic/academic identity variable acted as a moderator of the mediating effect of GPA on the relationship between self-reported high levels of difficulties thinking or concentrating and the use of academic resources on campus. If a student-athlete who is self-reporting high levels of difficulties thinking or concentrating identifies more as a student, GPA is likely to prompt academic service use. However, if the student-athlete identifies more as an athlete, GPA is less likely to lead to use of campus academic support resources.