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Pediatrics. 2014 Oct;134(4):e1063-71. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-3219.

Effects of the FITKids randomized controlled trial on executive control and brain function.

Author information

1
Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois; chhillma@illinois.edu.
2
Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan;
3
Department of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas;
4
Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois;
5
Department of Exercise Science, Schreiner College, Kerrville, Texas; and.
6
School of Sport Sciences, Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the effect of a physical activity (PA) intervention on brain and behavioral indices of executive control in preadolescent children.

METHODS:

Two hundred twenty-one children (7-9 years) were randomly assigned to a 9-month afterschool PA program or a wait-list control. In addition to changes in fitness (maximal oxygen consumption), electrical activity in the brain (P3-ERP) and behavioral measures (accuracy, reaction time) of executive control were collected by using tasks that modulated attentional inhibition and cognitive flexibility.

RESULTS:

Fitness improved more among intervention participants from pretest to posttest compared with the wait-list control (1.3 mL/kg per minute, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.3 to 2.4; d = 0.34 for group difference in pre-to-post change score). Intervention participants exhibited greater improvements from pretest to posttest in inhibition (3.2%, 95% CI: 0.0 to 6.5; d = 0.27) and cognitive flexibility (4.8%, 95% CI: 1.1 to 8.4; d = 0.35 for group difference in pre-to-post change score) compared with control. Only the intervention group increased attentional resources from pretest to posttest during tasks requiring increased inhibition (1.4 µV, 95% CI: 0.3 to 2.6; d = 0.34) and cognitive flexibility (1.5 µV, 95% CI: 0.6 to 2.5; d = 0.43). Finally, improvements in brain function on the inhibition task (r = 0.22) and performance on the flexibility task correlated with intervention attendance (r = 0.24).

CONCLUSIONS:

The intervention enhanced cognitive performance and brain function during tasks requiring greater executive control. These findings demonstrate a causal effect of a PA program on executive control, and provide support for PA for improving childhood cognition and brain health.

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01334359.

KEYWORDS:

aerobic fitness; cognition; physical activity; randomized controlled trial

PMID:
25266425
PMCID:
PMC4179093
DOI:
10.1542/peds.2013-3219
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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