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The Contribution of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to the Understanding of the Effects of Acute Physical Exercise on Cognition

1
Research Group Neuroprotection, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
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Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, Otto von Guericke University, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany
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Institute III, Department of Sport Science, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg, Zschokkestr. 32, 39104 Magdeburg, Germany
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Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences (CBBS), Brenneckestraße 6, 39118 Magdeburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(3), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10030175
Received: 3 December 2019 / Revised: 4 March 2020 / Accepted: 13 March 2020 / Published: 18 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exercising against Age-Effects on the Brain)
The fact that a single bout of acute physical exercise has a positive impact on cognition is well-established in the literature, but the neural correlates that underlie these cognitive improvements are not well understood. Here, the use of neuroimaging techniques, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), offers great potential, which is just starting to be recognized. This review aims at providing an overview of those studies that used fMRI to investigate the effects of acute physical exercises on cerebral hemodynamics and cognition. To this end, a systematic literature survey was conducted by two independent reviewers across five electronic databases. The search returned 668 studies, of which 14 studies met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed in this systematic review. Although the findings of the reviewed studies suggest that acute physical exercise (e.g., cycling) leads to profound changes in functional brain activation, the small number of available studies and the great variability in the study protocols limits the conclusions that can be drawn with certainty. In order to overcome these limitations, new, more well-designed trials are needed that (i) use a more rigorous study design, (ii) apply more sophisticated filter methods in fMRI data analysis, (iii) describe the applied processing steps of fMRI data analysis in more detail, and (iv) provide a more precise exercise prescription. View Full-Text
Keywords: cognition; acute exercise; fMRI; physical activity breaks cognition; acute exercise; fMRI; physical activity breaks
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Herold, F.; Aye, N.; Lehmann, N.; Taubert, M.; Müller, N.G. The Contribution of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging to the Understanding of the Effects of Acute Physical Exercise on Cognition. Brain Sci. 2020, 10, 175.

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