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Higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with better executive function and prefrontal oxygenation in younger and older women

Olivier Dupuy, Claudine J. Gauthier, Sarah A. Fraser, Laurence Desjardins-Crépeau, Michèle Desjardins, Said Mekary, Frédéric Lesage, Rick D. Hoge, Philippe Pouliot and Louis Bherer

Article (2015)

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Cite this document: Dupuy, O., Gauthier, C. J., Fraser, S. A., Desjardins-Crépeau, L., Desjardins, M., Mekary, S., ... Bherer, L. (2015). Higher levels of cardiovascular fitness are associated with better executive function and prefrontal oxygenation in younger and older women. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00066
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Aim: Many studies have suggested that physical exercise training improves cognition and more selectively executive functions. There is a growing interest to clarify the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie this effect. The aim of the current study was to evaluate the neurophysiological changes in cerebral oxygenation associated with physical fitness level and executive functions.Method: In this study, 22 younger and 36 older women underwent a maximal graded continuous test (i.e., VO2max) in order to classify them into a fitness group (higher vs. lower fit). All participants completed neuropsychological paper and pencil testing and a computerized Stroop task (which contained executive and non-executive conditions) in which the change in prefrontal cortex oxygenation was evaluated with near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS).Results: Our findings revealed a Fitness x Condition interaction (p < 0.05) such that higher fit women scored better on measures of executive functions than lower fit women. In comparison to lower fit women, higher fit women had faster reaction times in the Executive condition of the computerized Stroop task. No significant effect was observed in the non-executive condition of the test and no interactions were found with age. In measures of cerebral oxygenation (ΔHbT and ΔHbO(2)), we found a main effect of fitness on cerebral oxygenation during the Stroop task such that only high fit women demonstrated a significant increase in the right inferior frontal gyrus.Discussion/Conclusion: Higher fit individuals who demonstrate better cardiorespiratory functions (as measured by VO2max show faster reaction times and greater cerebral oxygenation in the right inferior frontal gyrus than women with lower fitness levels. The lack of interaction with age, suggests that good cardiorespiratory functions can have a positive impact on cognition, regardless of age.

Uncontrolled Keywords

fitness; Stroop; Executive Function; cerebral oxygenation; Prefrontal Cortex; right inferior frontal gyrus.

Open Access document in PolyPublie
Subjects: 1900 Génie biomédical > 1900 Génie biomédical
9000 Sciences de la santé > 9000 Sciences de la santé
Department: Département de génie électrique
Institut de génie biomédical
Polytechnique Montréal > Centres de recherche > Institut de génie biomédical
Research Center: Non applicable
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2019 15:40
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2021 10:43
PolyPublie URL: https://publications.polymtl.ca/3474/
Document issued by the official publisher
Journal Title: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (vol. 9)
Publisher: Frontiers
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2015.00066


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