D-13 Free Communication/Slide - Cognitive Function and Neurobiology Across the Lifespan: MAY 28, 2009 1:00 PM - 2:45 PM ROOM: 308
Over the past several decades a growing number of researchers have demonstrated cognitive improvement resulting from regular physical activity in older adults. In particular, the prefrontal cortex, which is susceptible to aging, and the processes mediated by it (i.e., executive control) are likely to be sensitive to the beneficial effects of chronic exercise. However, it is unclear whether physical activity level exerts the same effect during young adulthood. It is important to investigate this issue because the typical amount of regular physical activity engaged in by young adults has decreased in recent years.
PURPOSE: To investigate the relationship between general physical activity level and the cognitive functions of executive control in young adults using behavioral measures and the P3 component of an event-related brain potential.
METHODS: Forty young adults (21.1 ± 0.3 yrs; 19 females) were differentiated on the basis of their regular physical activity level into two groups: active and sedentary. They performed a spatial priming task consisting of three conditions: control, positive priming (PP), and negative priming (NP). PP and NP effects were assessed as indicators of cognitive functioning. The magnitude of the NP effect is thought to be related to executive control mechanisms, because the NP effect reflects inhibitory control to prevent interference from distractors on working memory. By contrast, PP effect is believed to be negatively correlated with executive control functioning.
RESULTS: NP effects on reaction time and P3 latency in the active group were larger than in the sedentary group. This suggests that regular physical activity has a positive effect on executive control. In contrast with the NP effects, PP effects on reaction time and P3 latency were only observed in the sedentary group. These PP results also could support the finding of the effects of regular physical activity on executive control.
CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that regular physical activity has a beneficial effect on the cognitive processes on executive control in young adults. The present study provides additional evidence of the beneficial effects of regular physical activity on cognitive functioning in young adults.