Kamijo, K., Nishihara, Y., Higashiura, T., & Kim, S.-R. (2006). The effects of exercise intensity and physical activity level on cognitive processing. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 38(5), Supplement abstract 2898.

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The purpose of this study was to investigate the interactive effects of exercise intensity and the physical activity level on human cognitive processing using P300. Ss (N = 26) were classified into two groups (active N = 13; inactive N = 13) using the International Physical Activity Questionnaires. The physical activity level and maximal oxygen uptake between groups were significantly different. They performed a go/no-go reaction time task in a control condition (no exercise), and again after low-, medium-, and high- intensity pedaling exercises. The go/no-go reaction time task consisted of a warning stimulus followed two seconds later by an imperative stimulus. A binaural 2000 Hz tone was used for the warning stimulus. For the imperative stimulus, green and red LEDs at the fixation point appeared randomly, with both colors appearing with the same probability. Ss were instructed to press a button with their thumb as fast as possible whenever the green LED was presented, but were told not to respond to the red LED.

The P300 amplitude after medium-intensity pedaling exercise was significantly larger than after high-intensity pedaling exercise only in the inactive group. The P300 amplitude after medium-intensity pedaling exercise in the inactive group was larger, and after high-intensity pedaling exercise was smaller than in the active group.

Implication. The inactive group was more sensitive to exercise intensity than the active group. When the exercise intensity was high, facilitative effects of cognitive processing by pedaling exercise are cancelled only in the inactive group. The active group was better able to withstand the detrimental effects of physical stress than the inactive group.

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