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Exercise and Cognitive Function


This textbook focuses on the relationship between physical exercise and cognition, a very timely and important topic with major theoretical and practical implications for a number of areas including ageing, neurorehabilitation, depression and dementia. It brings together a wide range of analytical approaches and experimental results to provide a very useful overview and synthesis of this growing field of study.

The book is divided into three parts:
Part I covers the conceptual, theoretical and methodological underpinnings and issues.
Part II focuses on advances in exercise and cognition research, with appropriate sub-sections on ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’ exercise and cognition.
Part III presents an overview of the area and makes suggestions for the direction of future research.

This text provides a cutting-edge examination of this increasingly important area written by leading experts from around the world.  The book will prove invaluable to researchers and practitioners in a number of fields, including exercise science, cognitive science, neuroscience and clinical medicine.

Key Features:

  • Unique in-depth investigation of the relationship between physical exercise and brain function.
  • Covers theoretical approaches and experimental results and includes chapters on the latest developments in research design.
  • Examines the effects of both acute and chronic exercise on brain function.
  • International list of contributors, who are leading researchers in their field.

Preface ix

Contributors xi


1 Acute exercise and psychological functions: a cognitive-energetic approach 3
Michel Audiffren

1.1 Varieties of exercise effects on psychological variables 4

1.2 The cognitive psychology approach 9

1.3 The energetic approach 11

1.4 Exercise effects and cognitive-energetic models 14

1.5 Sensorimotor and cognitive functions affected by exercise 24

1.6 Limits of the cognitive-energetic approach and future perspectives 33

1.7 Conclusion 39

2 Exercise and cognitive function: a neuroendocrinological explanation 41
Terry McMorris

2.1 Catecholamines and 5-hydroxytryptamine as brain neurotransmitters 41

2.2 How exercise induces increases in brain concentrations of noradrenaline, dopamine, cortisol and 5-hydroxytryptamine 43

2.3 Exercise, catecholamines, cortisol and cognition: research 50

2.4 Task type 59

2.5 Discussion 63

2.6 Developing a neuroendocrinological model for an interaction between exercise and cognition 67

3 The transient hypofrontality theory and its implications for emotion and cognition 69
Arne Dietrich

3.1 Clearing the ground 71

3.2 Exercise-induced transient hypofrontality 73

3.3 Implications for emotion 79

3.4 Implications for cognition 81

3.5 Reconceptualizing the existing data in the field 87

4 Methodological issues: research approaches, research design, and task selection 91
Phillip D. Tomporowski

4.1 Research approaches 92

4.2 Research design issues 99

4.3 Task selection issues 106

4.4 Conclusions and recommendations 112


5 Exercise, dehydration and cognitive function 117
Terry McMorris

5.1 Exercise-induced dehydration and cognitive function 119

5.2 Discussion 128

5.3 Conclusions 134

6 Exercise, nutrition and cognition 135
Adam David Cunliffe and Gulshanara Begum

6.1 Fatigue and limits to human performance 136

6.2 Assessing the effects of exercise and nutrition on cognitive performance 138

6.3 Nutrition, exercise and cognitive performance 142

6.4 Micronutrients, exercise and cognitive performance 145

6.5 Nutritional ergogenic aids and cognitive performance 147

6.6 Integration of research observations 148

6.7 Challenges in research 150

6.8 Conclusion 151

7 A chronometric and electromyographic approach to the effect of exercise on reaction time 153
Karen Davranche and Michel Audiffren

7.1 Research 156

7.2 Conclusion 159

8 Acute aerobic exercise effects on event-related brain potentials 161
Charles H. Hillman, Matthew Pontifex and Jason R. Themanson

8.1 Executive control 163

8.2 Neuroelectric measurement 164

8.3 Event-related brain potentials during exercise 165

8.4 Event-related brain potentials following exercise 170

8.5 Future directions and conclusions 177

9 Exercise and decision-making in team games 179
Terry McMorris

9.1 Designing a decision-making test 180

9.2 Research results 183

9.3 Ecological validity and future research 189

9.4 Implications for team games players and coaches 192

10 Blood glucose and brain metabolism in exercise 193
Niels H. Secher, Thomas Seifert, Henning B. Nielsen and Bjørn Quistorff

10.1 Cerebral metabolism during exercise 194

10.2 Cerebral oxygenation 202

10.3 Cerebral metabolism 203

10.4 Acute hypoglycemia 209

10.5 Conclusions 209

10.6 Future research 210

Acknowledgements 210


11 An integrated approach to the effect of acute and chronic exercise on cognition: the linked role of individual and task constraints 213
Caterina Pesce

11.1 The gap between acute and chronic exercise research 213

11.2 Individual constraints on the acute exercise–cognition relationship: the role of chronic exercise effects 215

11.3 Effect of physical fitness: links to exercise intensity and to the time relation between physical exercise and cognitive task 218

11.4 Effect of cognitive expertise: links to cognitive task complexity, exercise intensity and duration, and age 219

11.5 Effect of motor coordination skills: links to physical exercise complexity, intensity and duration 223

11.6 Bridging the gap between acute and chronic exercise studies 225

12 Chronic exercise and cognition in older adults 227
Jennifer Etnier

12.1 Theoretical underpinnings 228

12.2 Empirical evidence 230

12.3 Moderators of the relationship 245

12.4 Practical conclusions 245

12.5 Challenges 246

12.6 Future research 247

13 Exercise and cognition in children 249
Catherine L. Davis and Kate Lambourne

13.1 Definition of terms 249

13.2 Literature review 250

13.3 The Medical College of Georgia study 254

13.4 Potential mechanisms 262

13.5 Summary and recommendations for future research 266

14 Chronic exercise and developmental disabilities 269
James Zagrodnik and Michael Horvat

14.1 Defining terms 269

14.2 Research investigating the effects of exercise on cognition among the developmentally disabled 272

14.3 Problems to address and future research considerations 279

14.4 Practical applications and conclusions 282

15 Chronic exercise in brain diseases 285
Laura Eggermont and Erik Scherder

15.1 Observational studies of physical activity 286

15.2 Physical activity intervention studies 288

15.3 Physical activity, cognition and different types of dementia 298

15.4 Role of vascular disease 302

15.5 Neurodegenerative disease, nitric oxide, vascular disease and physical activity 305

15.6 Final conclusion 305


16 Summary and direction for future research 309
Terry McMorris, Phillip D. Tomporowski, and Michel Audiffren

16.1 Summary: emerging theoretical approaches 309

16.2 Summary of research results 312

16.3 Future theoretically driven research 314

16.4 Future applied research 316

16.5 General summary 317

References 319

Index 375

"A text brimming with new research in the field and practical suggestions for application and future research. … Discussion of the methodologies and protocols presented should generate considerable interest. … I found the text to be a worthwhile addition to my library." (PsycCRITIQUES, February 2010)

  • Unique in-depth investigation of the relationship between physical exercise and brain function.
  • Covers theoretical approaches and experimental results and includes chapters on the latest developments in research design.
  • Examines the effects of both acute and chronic exercise on brain function.
  • International list of contributors, who are leading researchers in their field.