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Charles H. Hillman and John R. Biggan

This manuscript, which arose from the inaugural Tom Rowland Lecture Series at the 2016 North American Society for Pediatric Exercise Medicine conference, provides a brief descriptive review of what is known (i.e., the state of the science) regarding the relation of childhood physical activity (PA) and cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) to brain health, cognition, and academic outcomes. Gaps in the knowledgebase are identified, including characteristics of the PA stimulus that promotes changes in brain and cognition, whether critical periods in development exist in which PA/CRF may have a disproportionately large influence, the understanding of individual difference factors, and the influence upon learning. Lastly, several possible directions for future research are proposed. Although the field of childhood PA, CRF, brain, and cognition is rapidly expanding, there is considerable room for future growth. This manuscript may be helpful in shaping that future growth, with the goal of improving lifelong health and effective functioning.

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Charles H. Hillman, Kirk I. Erickson, and Bradley D. Hatfield

The past two decades have uncovered the beneficial relation of physical activity and other health behaviors on brain and cognition, with the majority of data emerging from older adult populations. More recently, a similar research thread has emerged in school-aged children, which offers insight into the relation of physical activity to scholastic performance, providing a real-world application of the benefits observed in the laboratory. Technological advances have similarly furthered our understanding of physical activity effects on cognitive and brain health. Given this emerging body of work, this manuscript reviews the basic findings within the field, but more importantly suggests triggers or signals from the emerging literature that will shape the field in the near future. The overall goal of this body of research is to increase cognitive and brain health to promote effective functioning of individuals across the lifespan.

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Romain Meeusen and Lieselot Decroix

Thinking about food can modulate neural activity in specific brain areas known to be involved in the cognitive controls of appetitive behaviors. This leads to saliva production, gastric acid, and insulin secretion ( Berthoud, 2007 ). When food is encountered, smell and taste act as additional

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Michael Gay and Semyon Slobounov

Sports-related concussion (SRC) research has a long and storied past in the brain sciences that has evolved over the course of a century of investigations, the culmination of which leaves us at our present-day understanding of sports-related concussion as a complex pathophysiological process caused

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Brice T. Cleland and Sheila Schindler-Ivens

There are many examples of altered movement-related brain activation in individuals with poststroke hemiparesis. Changes in the extent, intensity, and location of brain activation have been observed during upper and lower limb movements, in acute and chronic stroke survivors, and before and after

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Bhanu Sharma and Brian W. Timmons

The recent increase in scientific activity related to traumatic brain injury (TBI)—and in particular, mild TBI and concussion—parallels the growth of public interest in the field. As the international scientific community aligns itself to better diagnose, treat, and manage this injury ( 79 ), which

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Ina M. Tarkka, Pekka Hautasaari, Heidi Pesonen, Eini Niskanen, Mirva Rottensteiner, Jaakko Kaprio, Andrej M. Savić, and Urho M. Kujala

The human brain undergoes many plastic changes during an individual’s lifetime, and both the structural and functional plastic changes are known to be modulated by experience. 1 – 3 It has been shown with animals, 4 , 5 and also with humans, that physical activity (PA) promotes morphological

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Kevin M. Guskiewicz

“Concussion” is all over the news, and—yes—it has implications for combating chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Many parents are pushing their children away from collision sports such as football, hockey, and lacrosse because they fear the risk of chronic neurodegenerative problems later in life. However, there is good logic in emphasizing the importance of physical activities such as collision type sports, during the developmental years. Physical educators, researchers, policy makers, and coaches must work together to encourage safe play and rules changes that can keep youth and adolescents active in sports that build character, discipline, and teach teamwork. Understanding the complexity of the highly adaptable adolescent brain both prior to and following sport-related concussion is critically important in accomplishing this goal.

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Jumpei Mizuno, Masashi Kawamura, and Minoru Hoshiyama

neural networks induced on executing a specific action as well as during observing an action performed by another person ( Gallese et al., 1996 ; Umiltà et al., 2001 ). Multiple regions of the brain have subsequently been associated with MNS in humans, such as the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), PMv

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Louisa D. Raisbeck, Jed A. Diekfuss, Dustin R. Grooms, and Randy Schmitz

in the primary motor cortex, somatosensory cortex, and insular region of the left hemisphere. The authors surmised from these regions that are associated with sensory function, that an external focus promoted task-adequate brain activity for movement execution by shifting focus toward exteroceptive