Adiposity is related to neuroelectric indices of motor response preparation in preadolescent children

Anne M. Walk, Lauren B. Raine, Arthur F. Kramer, Neal J. Cohen, Charles H. Hillman, Naiman A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) have been utilized to study the cognitive implications of health-related behaviors, although many questions remain regarding the neural correlates underlying the cognition and adiposity relationship in childhood. Specifically, it is unknown whether excess fat mass is associated with the neural correlates of motor preparation and activation. The present work examined interrelationships between adiposity and ERPs that index inhibition, stimulus evaluation, and motor planning. Method: To further elucidate the neural components of inhibitory control that are sensitive to adiposity, N2, P3, and response- and stimulus-locked Lateralized Readiness Potential (LRPs) were measured while preadolescent children completed an attentional inhibition task. Whole body percent adiposity was measured via dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Results: Adiposity was related to the response-locked LRP amplitudes and marginally to P3 amplitude during the incongruent trials, such that participants with less adiposity elicited larger LRP and P3 components. Furthermore, P3 was strongly related to participant reaction times, suggesting that while LRP is strongly associated with adiposity, P3 has a more direct relationship to behavioral task performance. Conclusions: The results suggest that while different cognitive functions may be affected by health-related characteristics, stimulus evaluation and motor activation may be particularly sensitive to excess adiposity in children. These findings extend previous work implicating adiposity in cognitive health in the pediatric population. Study importance: 1. What is already known about this subject? a. Excess adiposity is inversely associated with cognitive function in children. b. Adiposity has been associated with several event-related brain potentials, such that smaller P3 components, which index stimulus evaluation, and N2 components, which index attentional inhibition, are related to greater adiposity in children. c. The neural correlates underlying the cognition-adiposity relationship are under specified, and additional ERP components should be studied; one such component is the LRP, which underlies motor planning and activation. 2. What does your study add? a. Our results show that adiposity was related to the P3 and the response-locked LRP components such that children with less adiposity showed larger P3 and LRP waveforms. b. These findings suggest that two separable, though related, processes may be affected by adiposity in childhood: One involving the evaluation of a stimulus, represented by the P3, and one involving the activation of motor control, represented by the response-locked LRP. Clinical Registry Number: NCT02630667 at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-183
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Attention
  • Cognitive development
  • Event-related potential
  • Glucose facilitation
  • Inhibitory control
  • Lateralized readiness potential
  • Motor planning
  • P3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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