Aerobic fitness is associated with greater efficiency of the network underlying cognitive control in preadolescent children

Beckman Institute and Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, IL 61801, USA.
Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 3.36). 12/2011; 199:166-76. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.10.009
Source: PubMed


This study examined whether individual differences in aerobic fitness are associated with differences in activation of cognitive control brain networks in preadolescent children. As expected, children performed worse on a measure of cognitive control compared with a group of young adults. However, individual differences in aerobic fitness were associated with cognitive control performance among children. Lower-fit children had disproportionate performance cost in accuracy with increasing task difficulty, relative to higher-fit children. Brain activation was compared between performance-matched groups of lower- and higher-fit children. Fitness groups differed in brain activity for regions associated with response execution and inhibition, task set maintenance, and top-down regulation. Overall, differing activation patterns coupled with different patterns of brain-behavior correlations suggest an important role of aerobic fitness in modulating task strategy and the efficiency of neural networks that implement cognitive control in preadolescent children.

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