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Short Term Exercise Equals Big Time Brain Boost

Summary: Researchers reveal even after one short, ten minute, burst of exercise, cognitive processing and attention improve temporarily.

Source: University of Western Ontario.

A 10-minute, one-time burst of exercise can measurably boost your brain power, at least temporarily, researchers at Western University in London, Canada, have found.

While other studies have showed brain-health benefits after 20-minutes of a single-bout of exercise, or following commitment to a long-term (24-week) exercise program, this research suggests even 10 minutes of aerobic activity can prime the parts of the brain that help us problem-solve and focus.

“Some people can’t commit to a long-term exercise regime because of time or physical capacity,” said Kinesiology Prof. Matthew Heath, who is also a supervisor in the Graduate Program in Neuroscience and, with master’s student Ashna Samani, conducted the study. “This shows that people can cycle or walk briskly for a short duration, even once, and find immediate benefits.”

During the study, research participants either sat and read a magazine or did 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise on a stationary bicycle. Following the reading and exercise session, the researchers used eye-tracking equipment to examine participants’ reaction times to a cognitively demanding eye movement task. The task was designed to challenge areas of the brain responsible for executive function such as decision-making and inhibition.

“Those who had exercised showed immediate improvement. Their responses were more accurate and their reaction times were up to 50 milliseconds shorter than their pre-exercise values. That may seem minuscule but it represented a 14-per-cent gain in cognitive performance in some instances,” said Heath, who is also an associate member of Western’s Brain and Mind institute. He is conducting a study now to determine how long the benefits may last following exercise.

 Image shows people on exercise bikes.

Even a short, one-time burst of exercise can boost parts of the brain responsible for executive function such as decision-making and focus, says a research paper from Western University, Canada. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Western University, London, Canada.

The work has significance for older people in early stages of dementia who may be less mobile, he said, and for anyone else looking to gain quick a mental edge in their work.

“I always tell my students before they write a test or an exam or go into an interview — or do anything that is cognitively demanding – they should get some exercise first,” Heath said. “Our study shows the brain’s networks like it. They perform better.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Debora Van Brenk – University of Western Ontario
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Western University, London, Canada.
Original Research: Abstract for “Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task” by Ashna Samani, and Matthew Heath in Neuropsychologia. Published online November 27 2017 doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.029

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article

University of Western Ontario “Songbirds May Hold the Secret toHow Babies Learn to Speak.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 21 December 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/exercise-focus-problem-solving-8223/>.
University of Western Ontario (2017, December 21). Songbirds May Hold the Secret toHow Babies Learn to Speak. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved December 21, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/exercise-focus-problem-solving-8223/
University of Western Ontario “Songbirds May Hold the Secret toHow Babies Learn to Speak.” http://neurosciencenews.com/exercise-focus-problem-solving-8223/ (accessed December 21, 2017).

Abstract

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

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 20 min or greater. The present study sought to determine whether such a ‘boost’ extends to an exercise duration as brief as 10 min. 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 27 ms 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.

“Executive-related oculomotor control is improved following a 10-min single-bout of aerobic exercise: Evidence from the antisaccade task” by Ashna Samani, and Matthew Heath in Neuropsychologia. Published online November 27 2017 doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2017.11.029

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