Disclosure: The authors declared no conflict of interest.
An 8-month randomized controlled exercise trial alters brain activation during cognitive tasks in overweight children
Article first published online: 10 SEP 2013
Copyright © 2013 The Obesity Society
Volume 22, Issue 1, pages 232–242, January 2014
How to Cite
Krafft, C. E., Schwarz, N. F., Chi, L., Weinberger, A. L., Schaeffer, D. J., Pierce, J. E., Rodrigue, A. L., Yanasak, N. E., Miller, P. H., Tomporowski, P. D., Davis, C. L. and McDowell, J. E. (2014), An 8-month randomized controlled exercise trial alters brain activation during cognitive tasks in overweight children. Obesity, 22: 232–242. doi: 10.1002/oby.20518
Funding agencies: This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 HL87923) and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
- Issue published online: 11 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 10 SEP 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 21 JUN 2013 05:08AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Received: 26 OCT 2012
Children who are less fit reportedly have lower performance on tests of cognitive control and differences in brain function. This study examined the effect of an exercise intervention on brain function during two cognitive control tasks in overweight children.
Design and Methods
Participants included 43 unfit, overweight (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) children 8- to 11-years old (91% Black), who were randomly divided into either an aerobic exercise (n = 24) or attention control group (n = 19). Each group was offered a separate instructor-led after-school program every school day for 8 months. Before and after the program, all children performed two cognitive control tasks during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): antisaccade and flanker.
Compared to the control group, the exercise group decreased activation in several regions supporting antisaccade performance, including precentral gyrus and posterior parietal cortex, and increased activation in several regions supporting flanker performance, including anterior cingulate and superior frontal gyrus.
Exercise may differentially impact these two task conditions, or the paradigms in which cognitive control tasks were presented may be sensitive to distinct types of brain activation that show different effects of exercise. In sum, exercise appears to alter efficiency or flexible modulation of neural circuitry supporting cognitive control in overweight children.