Effekte akuter Ausdauerbelastungen auf nachfolgende Interferenzkontrollleistungen bei jungen, gesunden Erwachsenen

Max Oberste-Frielinghaus

Publication: Book/ReportDissertations

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Abstract

A single session of endurance exercise can improve subsequent cognitive performances. Nevertheless, does this hold also true for young and healthy adults that are at the peak of their physical and mental capacity? Some researchers think that this is unlikely. They have doubts whether young and healthy adults still have the potential for short-term increases of their cognitive performances. Representatives of this standpoint explain the positive effects reported in the literature with bias that should result from methodological weaknesses of the studies concerned. As central points of criticism regarding the methodology of existing research, they list: (i) the usage of passive control groups (e.g., waiting, reading, or watching TV), against which the acute endurance exercise is tested for subsequent cognitive benefits, (ii; the lack of control for potential learning effects when using cognitive psychological testing procedures (lack of habituation to testing procedures prior to the actual examination); (iii) the usage of test variables with questionable validity (no separation of basic information processing capacity from the cognitive performance component that is actually investigated in the study)
In this thesis, a potential biasing influence of the above-mentioned methodological points of criticism is explicitly investigated. Thereby, the effects of acute endurance exercise induced effects on subsequent interference control performances in young and healthy adults are in focus. Interference control is a cognitive subdomain. It is part of executive functioning and describes the ability to control cognitive conflicts that occur between processing a target- stimulus and distractor-stimuli. In this thesis, interference control is exclusively investigated because it is, by far, the most investigated cognitive subdomain in the acute exercise-cognition paradigm. Only this broad database allows meta-analytical moderator analyses regarding the influence of the methodological points of criticism.
This thesis reports about two studies and one systematic review. In the first study, it was attempted to replicate the positive effects of acute endurance exercise on subsequent
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interference control performances in young and healthy adults as they are (partly) reported in the literature. However, the above-mentioned methodological shortcomings were avoided. The results of that study did not confirm positive effects of acute endurance exercise on subsequent interference control performances in young and healthy adults.
In order to investigate whether the usage of passive control groups in existing studies might be responsible for the failed replication of positive effects in the first study a second study was conducted. This study captured the expectations that young and healthy adults have towards passive control group treatments and towards acute endurance exercise regarding cognitive benefits. Expectations are powerful as they can influence the behavior of participants. This is commonly understood as placebo effects. However, different to what was expected, the second study did not show higher expectations towards acute endurance exercise than towards passive control group treatments regarding cognitive benefits.
In a final systematic review with meta-analysis, it was shown that the effect of acute endurance exercise on subsequent interference control performances in young and healthy adults is significant but small. The small size of the effect can explain the failed replication of a positive effect in the first study. The statistical power of the first study was too small to show a significant small effect. Moreover, a meta-analytic moderator analysis made clear that none of the above listed methodological shortcomings moderate the effect of acute endurance exercise on subsequent interference control performances.
To conclude, acute endurance exercise can improve subsequent interference control performances even in young and healthy adults. The above-mentioned methodological points of criticism cannot explain these positive effects. However, the effect is small. Therefore, relevance of acute endurance exercise induced interference control benefits for everyday living is likely to be rather marginal. On the contrary, in situations with high demands for interference control performance, like in eSports, small benefits could be decisive. Other groups, already suffering from cognitive decline should benefit much stronger from acute endurance exercise.
Original languageGerman
Place of PublicationKöln
PublisherDeutsche Sporthochschule Köln
Number of pages68
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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