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Arthur D. Fisk and Wendy A. Rogers

Two important questions are addressed in this article. The first concerns whether performance of well-learned skills is maintained as individuals grow older. The second question concerns whether older adults are able to acquire new skills. The answer to both questions is “yes”; however, the acquisition rate and the final performance level for newly acquired skills is generally less for older adults than for younger adults. The article resolves an apparent puzzle of how it is that older adults are capable of successful performance of everyday activities, given noted declines in cognitive-ability-type tasks shown for performance in laboratory studies. A brief discussion of age-related training strategies to enhance skill learning is provided.

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Jamie L. Moul, Bert Goldman and Beverly Warren

The effect of exercise on cognitive performance in an older population was studied. Thirty sedentary men and women 65–72 years of age were randomly assigned to a walking group, a weight training group, or a placebo control group. Intervention groups exercised 30–60 min 5 days per week for 16 weeks, with the walking group training at 60% heart rate reserve, the weight training group employing the DAPRE method of weight progression, and the placebo control group engaging in mild range-of-motion and flexibility movements that kept their heart rates close to resting levels. At baseline and 16 weeks posttraining each subject completed the Ross Information Processing Assessment (RIPA), a maximal graded treadmill test, and a strength assessment of the knee extensors and elbow flexors. Sixteen weeks of walking improved VO2peak of the sedentary subjects 15.8%; VO2peak did not improve in the other two groups. Additionally, the RIPA scores of the walking group increased 7.5%, while those of the weight-training and control groups showed little change.

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A. Mark Williams, Joan Vickers and Sergio Rodrigues

Processing efficiency theory predicts that anxiety reduces the processing capacity of working memory and has detrimental effects on performance. When tasks place little demand on working memory, the negative effects of anxiety can be avoided by increasing effort. Although performance efficiency decreases, there is no change in performance effectiveness. When tasks impose a heavy demand on working memory, however, anxiety leads to decrements in efficiency and effectiveness. These presumptions were tested using a modified table tennis task that placed low (LWM) and high (HWM) demands on working memory. Cognitive anxiety was manipulated through a competitive ranking structure and prize money. Participants’ accuracy in hitting concentric circle targets in predetermined sequences was taken as a measure of performance effectiveness, while probe reaction time (PRT), perceived mental effort (RSME), visual search data, and arm kinematics were recorded as measures of efficiency. Anxiety had a negative effect on performance effectiveness in both LWM and HWM tasks. There was an increase in frequency of gaze and in PRT and RSME values in both tasks under high vs. low anxiety conditions, implying decrements in performance efficiency. However, participants spent more time tracking the ball in the HWM task and employed a shorter tau margin when anxious. Although anxiety impaired performance effectiveness and efficiency, decrements in efficiency were more pronounced in the HWM task than in the LWM task, providing support for processing efficiency theory.

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Lieselot Decroix, Maria Francesca Piacentini, Gerard Rietjens and Romain Meeusen

Purpose:

High training loads combined with other stressors can lead to performance decrements. The time needed to recover determines the diagnosis of (non)-functional overreaching or the overtraining syndrome. The aim of this study was to describe the effects of an 8-day (intensified) training camp of professional female cyclists on physical and cognitive performance.

Methods:

Nine subjects performed a 30-min time trial (TT), cognitive test, and Profile of Mood States questionnaire before, during, and after a training camp (49% increased training volume). On data collection, cyclists were classified as “overreached” (OR) or “adapted” (A) based on TT performance. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to detect changes in physical and cognitive parameters.

Results:

Five cyclists were described as OR based on decreased mean power output (MPO) (–7.03%) on day 8. Four cyclists were classified as A (increased MPO: +1.72%). MPO and maximal heart rate were significantly different between A and OR groups. A significant slower reaction time (RT) (+3.35%) was found in OR subjects, whereas RT decreased (–4.59%) in A subjects. The change in MPO was negatively correlated with change in RT in the cognitive test (R 2 = .52).

Conclusions:

This study showed that the use of objective, inexpensive, and easy-to-interpret physical and cognitive tests can facilitate the monitoring of training adaptations in professional female athletes.

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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.

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John R. Biggan, Forest Melton, Michael A. Horvat, Mark Ricard, David Keller and Christopher T. Ray

The understanding of prefrail and nonfrail older adults’ postural control with and without increased environmental and cognitive stress is imperative to the development of targeted interventions to decrease fall risk within these populations. Thirty-eight individuals participated in this study. Postural control testing included the Sensory Organization Test (SOT) on a NeuroCom EquiTest. Cognitive and environmental load testing was performed during Condition 6 of the SOT. Though there were no group differences on composite equilibrium score (p = .06), the cognitive task (Stroop task) impaired equilibrium scores more than the auditory or visual distracter tasks (p < .05 and p < .01) for both groups. These results suggest that both prefrail and nonfrail older adults’ postural control is reduced in demanding environments. Given these findings, the need for multimodal exercise interventions to target both physical and cognitive factors is apparent.

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Mathias H. Kosack, Walter Staiano, Rasmus Folino, Mads B. Hansen and Simon Lønbro

Purpose: Several studies have examined the effect of MF on sport performance, but no studies have been conducted on badminton performance. The purpose of the present study was to examine the acute effect of mental fatigue (MF) on badminton performance in elite players. Methods: In total, 19 elite Danish badminton players completed 2 test days in randomized order, separated by 48 h. On day 1, to elicit MF, a 60-min incongruent Stroop task was performed. On day 2, 60 min of an emotionally neutral documentary was used for the control condition. After either condition, subjects performed a badminton-specific test (BST) where performance time was measured, as well as countermovement-jump height, heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and lactate. Psychological questionnaires were answered under both conditions. Results: Subjects were significantly more mentally fatigued (P = .002) after the Stroop intervention than in the control. No differences between conditions were detected in the BST (control 32.43 [1.96] vs MF 32.43 [2.36] s; P = .99, Student t test). In addition, no effect of condition (P = .64), time (P = .14), or condition × time (P = .87) was found (2-way analysis of variance). Furthermore, no differences in heart rate, countermovement jump, or rating of perceived exertion were observed between conditions. Lactate showed no effect of condition (P = .46). Conclusion: Despite being more mentally fatigued after the Stroop test than in the control condition, performance was not negatively affected during a BST. In addition, no differences in physiological measures were observed.

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Robert J. Rotella, Bruce Gansneder, David Ojala and John Billing

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Gavin R. McCormack, Christine M. Friedenreich, Billie Giles-Corti, Patricia K. Doyle-Baker and Alan Shiell

Background:

The built and social environments may contribute to physical activity motivations and behavior. We examined the extent to which the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) mediated the association between neighborhood walkability and walking.

Methods:

Two random cross-sectional samples (n = 4422 adults) completed telephone interviews capturing walking-related TPB variables (perceived behavioral control (PBC), attitudes, subjective norm, intention). Of those, 2006 completed a self-administered questionnaire capturing walkability, social support (friends, family, dog ownership), and neighborhood-based transportation (NTW) and recreational walking (NRW). The likelihood of undertaking 1) any vs. none and 2) sufficient vs. insufficient levels (≥150 vs. <150 minutes/week) of NTW and NWR, in relation to walkability, social support, and TPB was estimated.

Results:

Any and sufficient NTW were associated with access to services, connectivity, residential density, not owning a dog (any NTW only), and friend and family support. Any and sufficient NRW were associated with neighborhood aesthetics (any NRW only), dog ownership, and friend and family support. PBC partially mediated the association between access to services and NTW (any and sufficient), while experiential attitudes partially mediated the association between neighborhood aesthetics and any NRW.

Conclusions:

Interventions that increase positive perceptions of the built environment may motivate adults to undertake more walking.

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Christina M. Ohlinger, Thelma S. Horn, William P. Berg and Ronald Howard Cox

Background:

The purpose of this study was to assess participants’ ability to perform tasks requiring attention, short term memory, and simple motor skill while sitting, standing or walking at an active workstation.

Methods:

Fifty participants completed the Stroop Color Word test (SCWT), Auditory Consonant Trigram test (ACTT), and Digital Finger Tapping test (DFTT) while sitting, standing and walking 1.6 km/h at an active workstation.

Results:

A significant difference was found for DFTT, but no differences across conditions were found on ACTT or SCWT. Examination of the linear contrasts and post hoc means comparison tests revealed significant differences in DFTT scores between sitting and walking (t = 2.39 (49) P < .02) and standing and walking (t = 2.28 (49) P < .03). These results indicate that adding the walking task to the ACTT and SCWT conditions results in no decrement in performance on these tasks. Conversely, adding the walking task to the DFTT condition results in reduced performance on the DFTT task.

Conclusions:

These results further support the potential of active workstations to increase physical activity in the workplace without compromising cognitive capabilities.