The Effects of Low-Intensity Exercise on Neurocognitive Function

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Acute aerobic exercise exerts a small beneficial effect on cognition. Much of the research to date has focused on cognitive changes following a bout of exercise, while little is currently known about changes in cognitive performance during exercise. The limited research that has been conducted suggests either positive, negative, or no effects on cognitive performance during exercise. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was to examine the effects of low-intensity cycling on cognitive function in college-aged students, indexed by response accuracy, reaction time, P3 amplitude, and P3 latency. Twenty-seven (Mage = 22.9 ± 3.0 years old) college-aged individuals were ... continued below

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Cleveland, David August 2018.

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  • Cleveland, David

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Acute aerobic exercise exerts a small beneficial effect on cognition. Much of the research to date has focused on cognitive changes following a bout of exercise, while little is currently known about changes in cognitive performance during exercise. The limited research that has been conducted suggests either positive, negative, or no effects on cognitive performance during exercise. Thus, the primary purpose of this study was to examine the effects of low-intensity cycling on cognitive function in college-aged students, indexed by response accuracy, reaction time, P3 amplitude, and P3 latency. Twenty-seven (Mage = 22.9 ± 3.0 years old) college-aged individuals were counterbalanced into low-intensity exercise (EX) and seated control (SC) conditions. During each condition, participants completed a 10-minute resting baseline period, 20 minutes of either sustained cycling or seated rest, and a 20-minute recovery period. Primary outcomes were assessed at 10-minute intervals (5 blocks total) throughout each condition via a modified oddball task. Across time blocks, both conditions exhibited faster reaction times on frequent trials but reduced accuracy to rare trials, suggesting a speed-accuracy tradeoff. There were no differences between conditions in P3 latency whereas a significant reduction in P3 amplitude was observed during the 20-minute exercise period compared to the control condition. Taken together, the results suggest that exercise at lower doses may have minimal influence on behavioral outcomes of cognitive performance but may impact more basic measures of brain function. Information gathered from this study may aid in the development of appropriate exercise prescriptions for populations looking to specifically target cognitive function deficits.

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  • August 2018

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  • Sept. 26, 2018, 6:16 p.m.

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Cleveland, David. The Effects of Low-Intensity Exercise on Neurocognitive Function, thesis, August 2018; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1248508/: accessed July 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .