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Effects of Acute Exercise on Sensory and Executive Processing Tasks


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: July 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 7 - p 1396-1402
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181cbee11
Applied Sciences

Purpose: The immediate and delayed effects of a single bout of steady-state aerobic exercise on 19 young adults' (mean = 21.1 yr) sensory sensitivity (critical flicker fusion, CFF) and executive function (modified Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task, PASAT) were assessed.

Methods: Tests were performed before exercise, five times during 40 min of ergometer cycling at 90% ventilatory threshold, and three times during a 30-min postexercise period. In a separate control session, each participant performed the same sequence of tests while seated on the ergometer without pedaling.

Results: ANOVA were performed separately on CFF and PASAT scores, which compared performance during exercise and nonexercise conditions at nine time points. Planned ANOVA of CFF scores revealed that the participants' sensory discrimination increased during exercise and then quickly returned to baseline levels immediately after exercise. PASAT scores did not change during or after exercise.

Conclusions: Exercise-induced arousal facilitates sensory processes involved in stimulus detection but does not influence the updating component of executive processing.

1University of Georgia, Athens, GA; and 2University of Poitiers, Poitiers, FRANCE

Address for correspondence: Phillip D. Tomporowski, Ph.D., Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, 330 River Road, Athens, GA 30602-6554; E-mail:

Submitted for publication August 2009.

Accepted for publication November 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine