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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13(1), 59; doi:10.3390/ijerph13010059
Article

Standing Up for Learning: A Pilot Investigation on the Neurocognitive Benefits of Stand-Biased School Desks

* ,
 and
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Texas A&M School of Public Health, 1266 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-1266, USA These authors contributed equally to this work.
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Rachel Davey
Received: 13 October 2015 / Revised: 24 November 2015 / Accepted: 17 December 2015 / Published: 22 December 2015
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Abstract

Standing desks have proven to be effective and viable solutions to combat sedentary behavior among children during the school day in studies around the world. However, little is known regarding the potential of such interventions on cognitive outcomes in children over time. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the neurocognitive benefits, i.e., improvements in executive functioning and working memory, of stand-biased desks and explore any associated changes in frontal brain function. 34 freshman high school students were recruited for neurocognitive testing at two time points during the school year: (1) in the fall semester and (2) in the spring semester (after 27.57 (1.63) weeks of continued exposure). Executive function and working memory was evaluated using a computerized neurocognitive test battery, and brain activation patterns of the prefrontal cortex were obtained using functional near infrared spectroscopy. Continued utilization of the stand-biased desks was associated with significant improvements in executive function and working memory capabilities. Changes in corresponding brain activation patterns were also observed. These findings provide the first preliminary evidence on the neurocognitive benefits of standing desks, which to date have focused largely on energy expenditure. Findings obtained here can drive future research with larger samples and multiple schools, with comparison groups that may in turn implicate the importance of stand-biased desks, as simple environmental changes in classrooms, on enhancing children’s cognitive functioning that drive their cognitive development and impact educational outcomes.
Keywords: sedentary behavior; physical activity; exercise; executive function; working memory; brain activity; fNIRS; PFC sedentary behavior; physical activity; exercise; executive function; working memory; brain activity; fNIRS; PFC
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Mehta, R.K.; Shortz, A.E.; Benden, M.E. Standing Up for Learning: A Pilot Investigation on the Neurocognitive Benefits of Stand-Biased School Desks. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2016, 13, 59.

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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health EISSN 1660-4601 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert