Although the positive effects of different kinds of physical activity (PA) on cognitive functioning have already been demonstrated in a variety of studies, the role of cognitive engagement in promoting children’s executive functions is still unclear. The aim of the current study was therefore to investigate the effects of two qualitatively different chronic PA interventions on executive functions in primary school children. Children (N = 181) aged between 10 and 12 years were assigned to either a 6-week physical education program with a high level of physical exertion and high cognitive engagement (team games), a physical education program with high physical exertion but low cognitive engagement (aerobic exercise), or to a physical education program with both low physical exertion and low cognitive engagement (control condition). Executive functions (updating, inhibition, shifting) and aerobic fitness (multistage 20-m shuttle run test) were measured before and after the respective condition. Results revealed that both interventions (team games and aerobic exercise) have a positive impact on children’s aerobic fitness (4–5% increase in estimated VO2max). Importantly, an improvement in shifting performance was found only in the team games and not in the aerobic exercise or control condition. Thus, the inclusion of cognitive engagement in PA seems to be the most promising type of chronic intervention to enhance executive functions in children, providing further evidence for the importance of the qualitative aspects of PA.
Mirko Schmidt, Katja Jäger, Fabienne Egger, Claudia M. Roebers and Achim Conzelmann
Darla M. Castelli, Charles H. Hillman, Sarah M. Buck and Heather E. Erwin
The relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement has received much attention owing to the increasing prevalence of children who are overweight and unfit, as well as the inescapable pressure on schools to produce students who meet academic standards. This study examined 259 public school students in third and fifth grades and found that field tests of physical fitness were positively related to academic achievement. Specifically, aerobic capacity was positively associated with achievement, whereas BMI was inversely related. Associations were demonstrated in total academic achievement, mathematics achievement, and reading achievement, thus suggesting that aspects of physical fitness may be globally related to academic performance in preadolescents. The findings are discussed with regards to maximizing school performance and the implications for educational policies.
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.
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.
Kathryn T. Goode and David L. Roth
Experienced runners completed a Thoughts During Running Scale (TORS) immediately after a typical training run to assess the prevalence of certain thoughts during running. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) was also completed before and after the run. Confirmatory factor analyses revealed that a five-factor model provided better fit than simpler models. Items concerning the demands of the running activity and the monitoring of body responses loaded on one "associative" factor. The four "nonassociative" factors in this model were labeled Daily Events, Interpersonal Relationships, External Surroundings, and Spiritual Reflection. Correlational analyses indicated small but significant relationships between the TDRS dimensions and changes in mood. Increases in vigor were correlated with the tendency to engage in nonassociative thought, and decreases in tension and anxiety were found among those who thought about interpersonal relationships during the run. These results supplement findings on the effects of certain thought patterns during strenuous exercise.
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.
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.
Chiao-Ling Hung, Yu-Kai Chang, Yuan-Shuo Chan, Chia-Hao Shih, Chung-Ju Huang and Tsung-Min Hung
The purpose of the current study was to examine the relationship between motor ability and response inhibition using behavioral and electrophysiological indices in children with ADHD. A total of 32 participants were recruited and underwent a motor ability assessment by administering the Basic Motor Ability Test-Revised (BMAT) as well as the Go/No-Go task and event-related potential (ERP) measurements at the same time. The results indicated that the BMAT scores were positively associated with the behavioral and ERP measures. Specifically, the BMAT average score was associated with a faster reaction time and higher accuracy, whereas higher BMAT subset scores predicted a shorter P3 latency in the Go condition. Although the association between the BMAT average score and the No-Go accuracy was limited, higher BMAT average and subset scores predicted a shorter N2 and P3 latency and a larger P3 amplitude in the No-Go condition. These findings suggest that motor abilities may play roles that benefit the cognitive performance of ADHD children.
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.
J.C. Norling, Jim Sibthorp and Edward Ruddell
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.
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.
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.
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.