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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017 Oct;117(10):2029-2038. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3692-z. Epub 2017 Aug 5.

Executive function after exhaustive exercise.

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Physical Fitness Research Institute, Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare, 150 Tobuki, Hachioji, 192-0001, Tokyo, Japan.
Graduate School of Sports and Health Science, Fukuoka University, 8-19-1 Nanakuma, Jonan-ku, Fukuoka, 814-0180, Japan.
Faculty of Sports and Health Science, Fukuoka University, 8-19-1 Nanakuma, Jonan-ku, Fukuoka, 814-0180, Japan.
Graduate School of Informatics and Engineering, The University of Electro-communications, Chofu, 182-8585, Tokyo, Japan.



Findings concerning the effects of exhaustive exercise on cognitive function are somewhat equivocal. The purpose of this study was to identify physiological factors that determine executive function after exhaustive exercise.


Thirty-two participants completed the cognitive tasks before and after an incremental exercise until exhaustion (exercise group: N = 18) or resting period (control group N = 14). The cognitive task was a combination of a Spatial Delayed-Response (Spatial DR) task and a Go/No-Go task, which requires executive function. Cerebral oxygenation and skin blood flow were monitored during the cognitive task over the prefrontal cortex. Venous blood samples were collected before and after the exercise or resting period, and blood catecholamines, serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor, insulin-like growth hormone factor 1, and blood lactate concentrations were analyzed.


In the exercise group, exhaustive exercise did not alter reaction time (RT) in the Go/No-Go task (pre: 861 ± 299 ms vs. post: 775 ± 168 ms) and the number of error trials in the Go/No-Go task (pre: 0.9 ± 0.7 vs. post: 1.8 ± 1.8) and the Spatial DR task (pre: 0.3 ± 0.5 vs. post: 0.8 ± 1.2). However, ΔRT was negatively correlated with Δcerebral oxygenation (r = -0.64, P = 0.004). Other physiological parameters were not correlated with cognitive performance. Venous blood samples were not directly associated with cognitive function after exhaustive exercise.


The present results suggest that recovery of regional cerebral oxygenation affects executive function after exhaustive exercise.


Brain; Cerebral oxygenation; Executive function; Reaction time

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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