Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations.
ABSTRACT Research suggests that regular aerobic exercise has the potential to improve executive functioning, even in healthy populations. The purpose of this review is to elucidate which components of executive functioning benefit from such exercise in healthy populations. In light of the developmental time course of executive functions, we consider separately children, young adults, and older adults. Data to date from studies of aging provide strong evidence of exercise-linked benefits related to task switching, selective attention, inhibition of prepotent responses, and working memory capacity; furthermore, cross-sectional fitness data suggest that working memory updating could potentially benefit as well. In young adults, working memory updating is the main executive function shown to benefit from regular exercise, but cross-sectional data further suggest that task-switching and posterror performance may also benefit. In children, working memory capacity has been shown to benefit, and cross-sectional data suggest potential benefits for selective attention and inhibitory control. Although more research investigating exercise-related benefits for specific components of executive functioning is clearly needed in young adults and children, when considered across the age groups, ample evidence indicates that regular engagement in aerobic exercise can provide a simple means for healthy people to optimize a range of executive functions.
- SourceAvailable from: Olivier Dupuy[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Many studies have suggested that physical exercise training improves cognition and more selectively executive functions. There is a growing interest to clarify the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie this effect. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the neurophysiological changes in cerebral oxygenation associated with physical fitness level and executive functions. In this study, 22 younger and 36 older women underwent a maximal graded continuous test (i.e., [Formula: see text]O2max ) in order to classify them into a fitness group (higher vs. lower fit). All participants completed neuropsychological paper and pencil testing and a computerized Stroop task (which contained executive and non-executive conditions) in which the change in prefrontal cortex oxygenation was evaluated with near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). Our findings revealed a Fitness × Condition interaction (p < 0.05) such that higher fit women scored better on measures of executive functions than lower fit women. In comparison to lower fit women, higher fit women had faster reaction times in the Executive condition of the computerized Stroop task. No significant effect was observed in the non-executive condition of the test and no interactions were found with age. In measures of cerebral oxygenation (ΔHbT and ΔHbO2), we found a main effect of fitness on cerebral oxygenation during the Stroop task such that only high fit women demonstrated a significant increase in the right inferior frontal gyrus. Higher fit individuals who demonstrate better cardiorespiratory functions (as measured by [Formula: see text]O2max ) show faster reaction times and greater cerebral oxygenation in the right inferior frontal gyrus than women with lower fitness levels. The lack of interaction with age, suggests that good cardiorespiratory functions can have a positive impact on cognition, regardless of age.Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 01/2015; 9. DOI:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00066 · 2.90 Impact Factor
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The relation between bilingualism and cognition is informative about the connection between language and mind. From the perspective of language, the question is how bilingualism might help or hinder cognition – narrowly interpreted here as executive function. From the perspective of higher cognition, the question is what kinds of experiences improve executive function. Reported cognitive benefits from bilingualism range from none to substantial as a function of age, type of bilingualism (e.g., life-long balanced vs later-onset or infrequent use of the other language), syntactic relation between the two languages, socio-economic and immigrant status, task, and laboratory. To understand the variability and inconsistencies in results with bilingualism, I analyze concepts of executive function and cognitive reserve and examine the range of factors (such as active video game playing, education, musical training, and aerobic exercise) that are known to correlate with or to improve executive function. I suggest that a) “executive function” is a complex set of cognitive processes, the components of which are sometimes minimally correlated with each other, depending on the task; b) bilingualism is inconsistently correlated with superior executive function and delayed onset of dementia; c) all speakers (mono- or bilingual) have non-linguistic ways of improving executive function; and d) benefits from bilingualism – and all cognitively challenging activities – are inconsistent because individuals vary in the number and kinds of experiences they have that promote superior executive function.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Studies of relationships between physical activity and children's attention skills are often constrained by small samples, lack of objective measurements and lack of control for confounders. The present study explores the relationship using objective measures of physical activity from a large birth cohort which permits both longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses. Data from 4755 participants (45% male) with valid measurement of physical activity (total volume and intensity) by accelerometry at age 11 from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (UK) were analysed. Attention was evaluated by the Test of Everyday Attention for Children (TEA-Ch) at 11 years and by the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerised cognitive assessment system at 13 years. Males engaged in an average of 29 min (SD 17) of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at age 11 years compared with 18 min (SD 12) among females. In unadjusted models, higher total volume of physical activity was associated with lower performance across attention tasks. When total volume of physical activity and potential confounding variables were controlled for, higher MVPA was associated with better performance at both 11 and 13 years. Correction for regression dilution approximately doubled the standardised β coefficients. We observed complex associations but results suggest that MVPA may be beneficial for attention processes in adolescence, especially in males. This has implications for interventions aimed at improving executive attention but may also be supportive of the benefits of physical activity for educational and mental health outcomes.Mental Health and Physical Activity 10/2013; 6(3). DOI:10.1016/j.mhpa.2013.09.002