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Promoting Physical Activity and Executive Functions Among Children: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of an After-School Program in Australia

Sanne L.C. Veldman, Rachel A. Jones, Rebecca M. Stanley, Dylan P. Cliff, Stewart A. Vella, Steven J. Howard, Anne-Maree Parrish, and Anthony D. Okely

Background: The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of an embedded after-school intervention, on promoting physical activity and academic achievement in primary-school-aged children. Methods: This 6-month, 2-arm cluster randomized controlled trial involved 4 after-school centers. Two centers were randomly assigned to the intervention, which involved training the center staff on and implementing structured physical activity (team sports and physical activity sessions for 75 min) and academic enrichment activities (45 min). The activities were implemented 3 afternoons per week for 2.5 hours. The control centers continued their usual after-school care practice. After-school physical activity (accelerometry) and executive functions (working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility) were assessed pre- and postintervention. Results: A total of 60 children were assessed (7.7 [1.8] y; 50% girls) preintervention and postintervention (77% retention rate). Children in the intervention centers spent significantly more time in moderate to vigorous physical activity (adjusted difference = 2.4%; 95% confidence interval, 0.6 to 4.2; P = .026) and scored higher on cognitive flexibility (adjusted difference = 1.9 units; 95% confidence interval, 0.9 to 3.0; P = .009). About 92% of the intervention sessions were implemented. The participation rates varied between 51% and 94%. Conclusion: This after-school intervention was successful at increasing moderate to vigorous physical activity and enhancing cognitive flexibility in children. As the intervention was implemented by the center staff and local university students, further testing for effectiveness and scalability in a larger trial is required.

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The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Executive Functions Among Youth in Low-Income Urban Schools in the Northeast and Southwest United States

Jesse Mala, Jennifer McGarry, Kristen E. Riley, Elaine C.-H. Lee, and Lindsay DiStefano

inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Inhibition also known as inhibitory control, enables individuals to control one’s attention, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to do what is needed, rather than succumb to an internal predisposition or external temptation ( Diamond, 2013 ). The amount of

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Effects of Acute Physical Exercise With Low and High Cognitive Demands on Executive Functions in Children: A Systematic Review

Linda Paschen, Tim Lehmann, Miriam Kehne, and Jochen Baumeister

monitoring of complex, goal-directed processes involved in perception, memory, and action ( 10 , 13 ). The 3 interrelated and interacting core domains of EF are inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility ( 9 , 10 ). In this context, inhibition describes a deliberate suppression of distracting

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Differences in Neurocognitive Functions Between Healthy Controls and Anterior Cruciate Ligament-Reconstructed Male Athletes Who Passed or Failed Return to Sport Criteria: A Preliminary Study

Maryam Kiani Haft Lang, Razieh Mofateh, Neda Orakifar, and Shahin Goharpey

motor action), 14 and cognitive flexibility (ie, the ability to switch attention from one stimulus to another). 19 RTI is the ability to quickly response to a stimulus, 14 and sustained attention is the ability to hold attention over time. 20 In team ball sports, players must be able to process and

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Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Executive and Memory Functions in Patients With Alzheimer’s Disease: A Systematic Review

Qiaoyou Luo, Zuguo Tian, Yuting Hu, and Chaochao Wang

 al., 2017 ). Executive functioning refers to the higher cognitive skills involved in planning, organizing, and problem solving and management. It encompasses three core components: inhibitory control, working memory, and cognitive flexibility ( Bridgett et al., 2013 ; Diamond, 2013 ). Executive functioning

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Dose–Response and Time Course Effects of Acute Resistance Exercise on Executive Function

Christopher J. Brush, Ryan L. Olson, Peter J. Ehmann, Steven Osovsky, and Brandon L. Alderman

The purpose of this study was to examine possible dose–response and time course effects of an acute bout of resistance exercise on the core executive functions of inhibition, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Twenty-eight participants (14 female; M age = 20.5 ± 2.1 years) completed a control condition and resistance exercise bouts performed at 40%, 70%, and 100% of their individual 10-repetition maximum. An executive function test battery was administered at 15 min and 180 min postexercise to assess immediate and delayed effects of exercise on executive functioning. At 15 min postexercise, high-intensity exercise resulted in less interference and improved reaction time (RT) for the Stroop task, while at 180 min low- and moderate-intensity exercise resulted in improved performance on plus–minus and Simon tasks, respectively. These findings suggest a limited and task-specific influence of acute resistance exercise on executive function in healthy young adults.

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Longitudinal Associations Between Objectively Measured Physical Activity and Development of Executive Functioning Across the Transition to First Grade

Loren Vandenbroucke, Jan Seghers, Karine Verschueren, Anne I. Wijtzes, and Dieter Baeyens


The current study investigates how children’s amount of daily physical activity relates to subcomponents of executive functions, the cognitive processes needed for goal-directed behavior. Previous studies rarely determined this association at the subcomponent level and did not explicitly examine the period when children make the transition to first grade, despite its importance for the development of executive functions.


In a sample of 54 children, working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility were thoroughly measured at the subcomponent level at the end of kindergarten and first grade. In the middle of first grade, children wore a pedometer for 7 consecutive days.


Regression analyses showed that performance on a measure of the visuospatial sketchpad, the central executive, and fluency was predicted by children’s amount of daily physical activity after controlling for initial task performance.


The development of the visuospatial sketchpad (working memory), the central executive (working memory), and fluency (cognitive flexibility) might be improved by increasing the amount of time being physically active. However, as other subcomponents of executive functioning were not affected, the role of other aspects of physical activity, such as intensity and content, in the development of executive functions should be further investigated.

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The Effects of Physical Activity on Cognitive Function in Older Adults: Evidence From Randomized Controlled Trials

Lindsay S. Nagamatsu and Patricia C. Heyn

older Latinos. Likewise, a 10-week dance intervention was shown to improve cognitive outcomes, including short-term memory, working memory, and cognitive flexibility in older adults living in a residential care setting (Kosmat & Vranic, 2017). Importantly, these benefits were found to persist at the 5

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FAST Club: The Impact of a Physical Activity Intervention on Executive Function in Children With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder

Alison B. Pritchard Orr, Kathy Keiver, Chris P. Bertram, and Sterling Clarren

Test (CCTT). Successful performance on the CCTT requires utilization of a variety of EF skills, such as sustained attention, perceptual tracking, sequencing, psychomotor speed, and cognitive flexibility ( Llorente et al., 2003 ). Thus, the CCTT provides a measure of overall EF ability rather than a

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Effects of College Athlete Life Stressors on Baseline Concussion Measures

J.D. DeFreese, Michael J. Baum, Julianne D. Schmidt, Benjamin M. Goerger, Nikki Barczak, Kevin M. Guskiewicz, and Jason P. Mihalik

, processing speed, and psychomotor speed Participants must correctly match symbols to digits from a key provided. They must make as many correct pairs within 2 min. Stroop test Neurocognitive index, reaction time, complex attention, and cognitive flexibility Three tests, each with increasingly complex