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Christiano Robles Rodrigues Alves, Bruno Gualano, Pollyana Pereira Takao, Paula Avakian, Rafael Mistura Fernandes, Diego Morine and Monica Yuri Takito

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of acute aerobic and strength exercises on selected executive functions. A counterbalanced, crossover, randomized trial was performed. Forty-two healthy women were randomly submitted to three different conditions: (1) aerobic exercise, (2) strength exercise, and (3) control condition. Before and after each condition, executive functions were measured by the Stroop Test and the Trail Making Test. Following the aerobic and strength sessions, the time to complete the Stroop “non-color word” and “color word” condition was lower when compared with that of the control session. The performance in the Trail Making Test was unchanged. In conclusion, both acute aerobic and strength exercises improve the executive functions. Nevertheless, this positive effect seems to be task and executive function dependent.

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Clare MacMahon, Linda Schücker, Norbert Hagemann and Bernd Strauss

This study investigated the effect of cognitive fatigue on physical performance in a paced running task. Experienced runners (n = 20) performed two 3,000-m runs on an indoor track, once after cognitive fatigue, and once under nonfatigued conditions. Completion times were significantly slower in the cognitive fatigue condition (M = 12:11,88 min, SD = 0:54,26), compared with the control condition (M = 11:58,56 min, SD = 0:48,39), F(1, 19) = 8.58, p = .009, eta2p = .31. There were no differences in heart rate, t(17) = 0.13, p > .05, blood lactate levels, t(19) = 1.19, p > .05, or ratings of perceived exertion F(1, 19) = .001, p 3 .05. While previous research has examined the impact of cognitive tasks on physical tasks, this is the first study to examine a self-paced physical task, showing that cognitive activity indeed contributes significantly to overall performance. Specifically, cognitive fatigue increased the perception of exertion, leading to lesser performance on the running task.

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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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Jeremy C. Young, Nicholas G. Dowell, Peter W. Watt, Naji Tabet and Jennifer M. Rusted

While there is evidence that age-related changes in cognitive performance and brain structure can be offset by increased exercise, little is known about the impact long-term high-effort endurance exercise has on these functions. In a cross-sectional design with 12-month follow-up, we recruited older adults engaging in high-effort endurance exercise over at least 20 years, and compared their cognitive performance and brain structure with a nonsedentary control group similar in age, sex, education, IQ, and lifestyle factors. Our findings showed no differences on measures of speed of processing, executive function, incidental memory, episodic memory, working memory, or visual search for older adults participating in long-term high-effort endurance exercise, when compared without confounds to nonsedentary peers. On tasks that engaged significant attentional control, subtle differences emerged. On indices of brain structure, long-term exercisers displayed higher white matter axial diffusivity than their age-matched peers, but this did not correlate with indices of cognitive 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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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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Jennifer L. Etnier and Daniel M. Landers

The primary purpose of this study was to examine differences in performance on fluid and crystallized intelligence tasks as a function of age and fitness. A secondary purpose was to examine the influence of age and fitness on the beneficial effects that practice has on both performance and retention on these tasks. Fitness was assessed in 41 older and 42 younger participants who were then randomly assigned to either experimental or control conditions. Participants performed repeated trials on two cognitive tasks during acquisition and retention, with the experimental group practicing for 100 trials and the control group practicing for 20 trials. Older participants performed better than younger participants on the crystallized intelligence task: however, younger participants performed better than older participants on the fluid intelligence task. On the fluid intelligence task, older fit participants performed better than older unfit participants. Learning did occur on the fluid task and differed as a function of age and fitness. Learning did not occur on the crystallized task.

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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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Judy L. Van Raalte, Allen E. Cornelius, Britton W. Brewer and Stephen J. Hatten

Although a number of studies have demonstrated the effects of self-talk on sport performance, the research literature on the antecedents of self-talk in competitive sport is sparse. The purpose of this study was to examine both the antecedents and the consequences of self-talk during competitive tennis performance. Eighteen adult tournament players were observed during United States Tennis Association–sanctioned matches. Players’ audible self-talk, observable gestures, and tennis scores were recorded using the Self-Talk and Gestures Rating Scale (Van Raalte, Brewer, Rivera, & Petitpas, 1994b). Results indicated that all players used observable self-talk and gestures during their matches. Furthermore, for all players, match circumstances (e.g., point outcome, serving status) predicted the use of negative self-talk. Positive and instructional self-talk were predicted by match circumstances for some players. The results suggest that match circumstances contribute to the generation of self-talk and provide useful information for researchers interested in better understanding the antecedents of self-talk.

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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.