Acute cardiovascular exercise and executive control function

Charles H. Hillman, Erin M. Snook, Gerald J. Jerome

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Acute cardiovascular exercise effects on cognitive function were examined using an executive control task by comparing neuroelectric and behavioral performance at baseline with post-exercise in 20 undergraduates. A within-subjects design was used to assess the P3 component of an event-related brain potential (ERP) and behavioral performance using a task that varied the amount of executive control required. The baseline session involved participation on the Eriksen flankers task followed by a graded maximal exercise test to measure cardiovascular fitness. The exercise session consisted of a 30-min acute bout of exercise on a treadmill followed by the Eriksen flankers task after heart rate returned to within 10% of pre-exercise levels. Across midline recordings sites, results indicated larger P3 amplitude following acute exercise compared to baseline. Shorter P3 latency was observed during the baseline Eriksen flankers task for the neutral compared to the incompatible condition; an effect not found following the acute bout of exercise. These findings suggest that acute bouts of cardiovascular exercise affect neuroelectric processes underlying executive control through the increased allocation of neuroelectric resources and through changes in cognitive processing and stimulus classification speed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-314
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


  • Acute exercise
  • Cardiovascular exercise
  • Cognition
  • ERPs
  • Eriksen flankers task
  • Executive control
  • P3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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