The relation of aerobic fitness to cognitive control and heart rate variability: A neurovisceral integration study

Brandon L. Alderman, Ryan L. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

This aim of the present study was to investigate relationships between aerobic fitness, sympathetic and parasympathetic cardiac control using pre-ejection period (PEP) and high frequency heart rate variability (HF HRV), and performance on a task requiring variable amounts of cognitive control. Fifty-six participants completed a modified-version of the Eriksen flanker task while PEP and HF HRV were collected. A graded maximal exercise test was subsequently used to measure aerobic fitness by assessing maximal oxygen uptake. Results indicated a significant relation of fitness to reaction time performance. Although no fitness differences were observed in resting state PEP or HF HRV, higher fit adults exhibited greater task-induced parasympathetic cardiac control. However, no significant mediation was found for HF HRV on the fitness-cognitive control relationship, suggesting other mediators may be important. These findings highlight the role of aerobic fitness in enhancing integrated autonomic and neurocognitive health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Volume99
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

Keywords

  • Autonomic nervous system
  • Cognitive function
  • Executive function
  • Heart rate variability
  • Physical fitness

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