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Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 212767, 6 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/212767
Research Article

Improvement of Processing Speed in Executive Function Immediately following an Increase in Cardiovascular Activity

Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76023, USA

Received 30 June 2013; Accepted 7 August 2013

Academic Editor: Koichi Hirata

Copyright © 2013 Nicoladie D. Tam. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

This study aims to identify the acute effects of physical exercise on specific cognitive functions immediately following an increase in cardiovascular activity. Stair-climbing exercise is used to increase the cardiovascular output of human subjects. The color-naming Stroop Test was used to identify the cognitive improvements in executive function with respect to processing speed and error rate. The study compared the Stroop results before and immediately after exercise and before and after nonexercise, as a control. The results show that there is a significant increase in processing speed and a reduction in errors immediately after less than 30 min of aerobic exercise. The improvements are greater for the incongruent than for the congruent color tests. This suggests that physical exercise induces a better performance in a task that requires resolving conflict (or interference) than a task that does not. There is no significant improvement for the nonexercise control trials. This demonstrates that an increase in cardiovascular activity has significant acute effects on improving the executive function that requires conflict resolution (for the incongruent color tests) immediately following aerobic exercise more than similar executive functions that do not require conflict resolution or involve the attention-inhibition process (for the congruent color tests).