Potential mechanisms for change in cognitive function during and following short-term maximal aerobic exercise
Lo Bue-Estes, Christine
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The purpose of the current study was to determine if the following variables change during and following incremental short-term maximal aerobic exercise in young healthy women (1) oxygenation of the left frontal lobe of the brain changes (2) multiple salivary and plasma factors, (3) cognitive function. Subjects. Apparently healthy 18-30 females, 21.8 ± 2.7 years old, average VO 2 max of 51.3 ± 6.8 ml/kg/min. Methods. Subjects completed two visits which were counterbalanced: (1) exercise, with a discontinuous short-term maximal treadmill exercise protocol and cognitive assessment pre, during breaks in, and post exercise and, (2) non-exercise, with cognitive assessment timed to match testing in the exercising visit. Near infrared spectroscopy was used to measure left frontal lobe. Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) a computerized, program was used to assess cognitive function. Results. During the exercise condition oxygenation ranged from 3-6% higher after exercise, compared to pre-exercise and post recovery assessments. In the Exercising versus Non-exercising condition, cerebral oxygenation was higher immediately after exercise, ranging from 3-7.5% higher, it varied based on cognitive function. α-amylase was higher after exercise and recovery than baseline in both conditions (ranging from 47% to 290%). Two cognitive variables, procedural reaction time and working memory, were assessed before, during breaks, and after exercise and recovery in both conditions. Multiple changes were detected. Conclusions. Our study suggests that short-term maximal aerobic exercise coupled with cognitive tasks is: (1) significant enough to increase cerebral oxygenation and that exercise intensity is a significant factor in the observed changes in oxygenation, (2) increases α-amylase levels, 3 that some cognitive tasks are resilient to changes across time, or exercise intervention and level of intensity, therefore interpretation of results must be task specific.