Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Exercise Improves Children's Cognition

Davis et al. (2011) conducted an experiment to test the hypothesis that exercise would improve executive function (high order cognitive functions mediated by prefrontal cortex circuitry- judgement, plannning, decision making, goal attainment, inhibitory control, social behavior, integration of cognition and emotion, attentional control, working memory).  The study involved sedentary, overweight 7- to 11-year-old children.  The participants were randomized to 13 ± 1.6 weeks of an exercise program (20 or 40 minutes/day), or a control condition.  Blinded, standardized psychological evaluations were used to measure cognition and academic achievement. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (*FMRI) measured brain activity during executive function tasks.

A specific improvement on executive function and brain activation changes due to exercise were observed.  In addition to its importance for maintaining weight, reducing health risks, and improving fitness levels,  exercise may prove to be a simple, important method of enhancing aspects of children’s mental functioning that are important for cognitive development. It is important that educators recognize these findings, and findings from other studies (Taras, 2005) that have shown similar results. Implementing vigorous physical activity into the school curriculum may lead to increased cognitive performance. 

* FMRI- A noninvasive biomedical imaging technique that employs a large magnet to detect changes in blood flow and oxygen consumption in the brain.  Blood flow and oxygen utilization increases in regions where neurons are more active, such as during the performance of a cognitive task. (Kandel, 2006, p. 438)

Recommended Articles
Exercise Benefits Individuals with Parkinson’s Disease http://www.maxcondition.com/page.php?163
Your Brain on Exercise http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/11/19/your-brain-on-exercise/

Davis, CL., Tomporowski, PD., McDowell, JE., Austin, BE., Miller, PH., Yanasak, NE., Allison, JD. & Naglieri, JA. (2011).   Exercise Improves Executive Function and Achievement and Alters Brain Activation in Overweight Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial.  Health Psychol, 30 (1), 91-98.  

Kandel, E. (2006).  In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind. New York, NY: Norton. 

Taras H (2005). Physical activity and student performance at school. Journal of School Health, 75, 214–218.

No comments:

Post a Comment