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Neuroimage. 2014 Sep;98:336-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.04.067. Epub 2014 May 2.

Positive effect of acute mild exercise on executive function via arousal-related prefrontal activations: an fNIRS study.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry and Neuroendocrinology, Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba 305-8574, Japan.
2
Laboratory of Sports Psychology, Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba 305-8574, Japan.
3
Department of Health and Nutrition, Yamagata Prefectual Yonezawa Women's Junior College, Yonezawa 992-002, Japan.
4
Applied Cognitive Neuroscience Lab., Research and Development Initiatives, Chuo University, 1-13-27 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 112-8551, Japan.
5
Laboratory of Exercise Biochemistry and Neuroendocrinology, Faculty of Health and Sports Sciences, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba 305-8574, Japan. Electronic address: hsoya@taiiku.tsukuba.ac.jp.

Abstract

Despite the practical implication of mild exercise, little is known about its influence on executive function and its neural substrates. To address these issues, the present study examined the effect of an acute bout of mild exercise on executive function and attempted to identify potential neural substrates using non-invasive functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Twenty-five young individuals performed a color-word matching Stroop task (CWST) and a two-dimensional scale to measure changes of psychological mood states both before and after a 10-minute exercise session on a cycle ergometer at light intensity (30% v(·)o2peak) and, for the control session, without exercise. Cortical hemodynamic changes in the prefrontal area were monitored with fNIRS during the CWST in both sessions. The acute bout of mild exercise led to improved Stroop performance, which was positively correlated with increased arousal levels. It also evoked cortical activations regarding Stroop interference on the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and frontopolar area. These activations significantly corresponded with both improved cognitive performance and increased arousal levels. Concurrently, this study provides empirical evidence that an acute bout of mild exercise improves executive function mediated by the exercise-induced arousal system, which intensifies cortical activation in task-related prefrontal sub-regions.

KEYWORDS:

Arousal; Cognitive function; Functional near infrared spectroscopy; Mild exercise; Prefrontal cortex; Stroop task

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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