Maintenance of Cognitive Control during and after Walking in Preadolescent Children

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ObjectiveThe present study evaluated the effects of an acute bout of moderate-intensity treadmill walking on aspects of cognitive control underlying successful academic achievement.MethodsThe study used a within-subjects counterbalanced design with a sample of 36 preadolescent children. Cognitive performance was assessed using a modified flanker task and a modified spatial n-back task to assess inhibition and working memory, respectively.ResultsNo changes in task performance were observed while individuals were actively walking or at seated rest across both tasks. However, during the flanker task, increased response accuracy was observed after exercise relative to post–seated rest. Further observation revealed decrements to response accuracy after seated rest relative to baseline. No such effect was observed for the n-back task.ConclusionsThese findings suggest selective exercise-induced changes to cognitive control for aspects of inhibitory control and attention but not for working memory. Furthermore, the findings suggest that short bouts of exercise may be efficacious for maintaining cognitive performance, which may have implications for scholastic achievement.

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