Moderate Cycling Exercise Enhances Neurocognitive Processing in Adolescents With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Research has shown that physical exercise enhances cognitive performance in individuals with intact cognition as well as in individuals diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

  • Although well identified in the field of health (for example, the transient hypofrontality theory), the underlying neurocognitive processes in intellectual and developmental disabilities remain widely unclear and thus characterize the primary aim of this research.
  • Eleven adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities performed moderate cycling exercise and common relaxation. Cross-over designed, both 10-min meetings were randomly allocated at the same time of day with 24-h time lags in between. Conditions were embedded in ability-modified cognitive performance (decision-making processes). Participants' reaction times and their equivalent neurophysiological parameters were recorded using standard EEG and analyzed (spatial activity, N2).
  • Exercise revealed a decrease in frontal electrocortical activity, most pronounced in the medial frontal gyrus (10%). To that effect, reaction time (p<0.01) was decreased and mirrored in decreased N2 latency (p<0.01) after exercise. In contrast, relaxation revealed no significant changes.
  • Results of this research suggest exercise temporarily enhances neuronal activity in relation to cognitive performance for adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities; further research is needed to explore possible future effects on enhancing neurocognitive development.

Vogt T, Schneider S, Anneken V, Strüder HK. (2013). Moderate cycling exercise enhances neurocognitive processing in adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.Res Dev Disabil, 34(9), 2708-2716.

filed under