Executive function during exercise is diminished by prolonged cognitive effort in men

Hayato Tsukamoto*, Kento Dora, Benjamin Stacey, Hibiki Tsumura, Yoshino Murakami, Christopher Marley, Damian Bailey, Takeshi Hashimoto

*Corresponding author for this work

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The speed and accuracy of decision-making (i.e., executive function (EF) domains) is an integral factor in many sports. At rest, prolonged cognitive load (pCL) impairs reaction time (RT). In contrast, exercise improves RT and EF. We hypothesized that RT and EF during exercise would be diminished by prolonged ‘dual tasking’ as a consequence of pCL. To test the hypothesis, twenty healthy male participants performed four conditions [resting control (Rest), pCL only (pCLRest), exercise only (EX), and pCL+ exercise (pCLEX)] in a randomized-crossover design. Both exercise conditions utilized a 50-min cycling exercise protocol (60% VO2 peak) and the pCL was achieved via a 50-min colour-word Stroop task (CWST). Compared with Rest, pCLRest caused a slowed CWST RT (P< 0.05) and a large SD (i.e., intraindividual variability) of CWST RT (P< 0.01). Similarly, compared with EX, the slowed CWST
RT (P< 0.05) and large SD of CWST RT (P< 0.01) were also observed in pCLEX. Whereas the reverse-Stroop interference was not afected in pCLRest (P= 0.46), it was larger (i.e., declined EF) in pCLEX than EX condition (P< 0.05). These observations provide evidence that the efort of pCL impairs RT and EF even during exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Article number22408
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 27 Dec 2022


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