Aerobic fitness and neurocognitive function in healthy preadolescent children

Charles H. Hillman, Darla M. Castelli, Sarah M. Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: We investigated the relationship between age, aerobic fitness, and cognitive function by comparing high- and low-fit predolescent children and adults. Method: Twenty-four children (mean age = 9.6 yr) and 27 adults (mean age = 19.3 yr) were grouped according to their fitness (high, low) such that four approximately equal groups were compared. Fitness was assessed using the Fitnessgram test, and cognitive function was measured by neuroelectric and behavioral responses to a stimulus discrimination task. Results: Adults exhibited greater P3 amplitude at Cz and Pz sites, and decreased amplitude at the Oz site compared with children. High-fit children had greater P3 amplitude compared with low-fit children and high- and low-fit adults. Further, adults had faster P3 latency compared with children, and high-fit participants had faster P3 latency compared with low-fit participants at the Oz site. Adults exhibited faster reaction time than children; however, fitness interacted with age such that high-fit children had faster reaction time than low-fit children. Conclusion: These findings suggest that fitness was positively associated with neuroelectric indices of attention and working memory, and response speed in children. Fitness was also associated with cognitive processing speed, but these findings were not age-specific. These data indicate that fitness may be related to better cognitive functioning in predolescents and have implications for increasing cognitive health in children and adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1967-1974
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Cognitive function
  • Development
  • EEG
  • Event-related potentials
  • Exercise
  • P3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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