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Open AccessArticle

Baseline Cognitive Performance Moderates the Effects of Physical Activity on Executive Functions in Children

1
Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University, Kobe 657-8501, Japan
2
Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro, NC 27413, USA
3
Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, 4052 Basel, Switzerland
4
Department of Psychology, Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, & Rehabilitation Sciences, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA
5
University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba 305-8577, Japan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(7), 2071; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9072071
Received: 4 June 2020 / Revised: 19 June 2020 / Accepted: 27 June 2020 / Published: 1 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children Behavior and Psychophysiology)
Findings regarding the effects of regular physical activity on cognition in children have been inconsistent due to a number of demographic factors and experimental considerations. The present study was designed to examine baseline cognitive performance and executive function demands, as possible factors underlying the lack of consensus in the literature, by investigating the moderating role of those factors on the effects of physical activity on cognition. We reanalyzed data from three randomized controlled trials, in which the effects of regular physical activity intervention on cognition were examined using executive function tasks that included at least two task conditions requiring variable executive function demands, with a cumulative total of 292 participants (9–13 years). The results indicate that cognitive improvements resulting from physical activity intervention were greater in children with lower baseline cognitive performance. The main analysis revealed that beneficial effects of physical activity intervention on cognitive performance were generally observed across executive function conditions. However, secondary analyses indicated that these general effects were moderated by baseline performance, with disproportionately greater effects for task conditions with higher executive function demands. These findings suggest that baseline cognitive performance is an individual difference variable that moderates the beneficial effects of physical activity on executive functions. View Full-Text
Keywords: exercise; fitness; executive functions; cognitive control; adolescent exercise; fitness; executive functions; cognitive control; adolescent
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Ishihara, T.; Drollette, E.S.; Ludyga, S.; Hillman, C.H.; Kamijo, K. Baseline Cognitive Performance Moderates the Effects of Physical Activity on Executive Functions in Children. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 2071.

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