Differences in sustained attention capacity as a function of aerobic fitness

Antonio Luque-Casado, Pandelis Perakakis, Charles H. Hillman, Shih Chun Kao, Francesc Llorens, Pedro Guerra, Daniel Sanabria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose We investigated the relationship between aerobic fitness and sustained attention capacity by comparing task performance and brain function, by means of event-related potentials (ERP), in high- and low-fit young adults. Methods Two groups of participants (22 higher-fit and 20 lower-fit) completed a 60-min version of the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT). Behavioral (i.e., reaction time) and electrophysiological (ERP) (i.e., contingent negative variation and P3) were obtained and analyzed as a function of time-on-task. A submaximal cardiorespiratory fitness test confirmed the between-groups difference in terms of aerobic fitness. Results The results revealed shorter reaction time in higher-fit than in lower-fit participants in the first 36 min of the task. This was accompanied by larger contingent negative variation amplitude in the same period of the task in higher-fit than in lower-fit group. Crucially, higher-fit participants maintained larger P3 amplitude throughout the task compared to lower-fit, who showed a reduction in the P3 magnitude over time. Conclusions Higher fitness was related to neuroelectric activity suggestive of better overall sustained attention demonstrating a better ability to allocate attentional resources over time. Moreover, higher fitness was related to enhanced response preparation in the first part of the task. Taken together, the current data set demonstrated a positive association between aerobic fitness, sustained attention, and response preparation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-895
Number of pages9
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • ERP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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