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Neuropsychologia. 2018 Jan 8;108:73-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.029. Epub 2017 Nov 27.

Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task.

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School of Kinesiology and Graduate Program in Neuroscience, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7.
School of Kinesiology and Graduate Program in Neuroscience, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada N6A 3K7. Electronic address:


Previous work has shown that a single-bout of moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise improves task-specific activity within frontoparietal networks and produces a short-term 'boost' to executive-related cognitive control - an effect in healthy young adults that is reported to be selective to exercise durations of 20min or greater. The present study sought to determine whether such a 'boost' extends to an exercise duration as brief as 10min. Healthy young adults performed a 10-min single-bout of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (i.e., via a cycle ergometer) and pre- and post-exercise executive control was examined via the antisaccade task. Antisaccades are an executive task requiring a goal-directed eye movement (i.e., a saccade) mirror-symmetrical to a visual stimulus. The hands- and language-free nature of antisaccades coupled with the temporal precision of eye-tracking technology make it an ideal tool for identifying executive performance changes. Moreover, an extensive literature has shown that antisaccades are mediated via frontoparietal networks that are modulated following single-bout and chronic exercise training. Results showed that antisaccade reaction time (RT) reliably decreased by 27ms from pre- to post-exercise assessments. Further, the percentage of antisaccade directional errors did not reliably vary from the pre- (13%) to post-exercise (9%) assessments - a result indicating that the RT improvement was unrelated to a speed-accuracy trade-off. A follow-up experiment involving antisaccade sessions separated by a non-exercise interval did not show a similar RT modulation. Thus, a 10-min bout of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise benefits executive-related oculomotor control, and is a finding we attribute to an exercise-based increase in attention/arousal and/or improved task-specific activity within the frontoparietal networks supporting antisaccades.


Aerobic exercise; Antisaccades; Executive control; Oculomotor; Single-bout

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