The relationship between aerobic fitness and executive control was assessed in 38 higher- and lower-fit children (Mage = 9.4 years), grouped according to their performance on a field test of aerobic capacity. Participants performed a flanker task requiring variable amounts of executive control while event-related brain potential responses and task performance were assessed. Results indicated that higher-fit children performed more accurately across conditions of the flanker task and following commission errors when compared to lower-fit children, whereas no group differences were observed for reaction time. Neuroelectric data indicated that P3 amplitude was larger for higher- compared to lower-fit children across conditions of the flanker task, and higher-fit children exhibited reduced error-related negativity amplitude and increased error positivity amplitude compared to lower-fit children. The data suggest that fitness is associated with better cognitive performance on an executive control task through increased cognitive control, resulting in greater allocation of attentional resources during stimulus encoding and a subsequent reduction in conflict during response selection. The findings differ from those observed in adult populations by indicating a general rather than a selective relationship between aerobic fitness and cognition.
- cognitive control
- error-related negativity
- physical activity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies