A single-bout of aerobic exercise facilitates task-switching efficiency: Evidence using spatially compatible saccades


A single-bout of aerobic exercise provides a short-term boost to executive function. The majority of the work examining this post-exercise benefit has employed a task requiring response suppression. It is, however, important to recognize that executive function involves a constellation of cognitive processes including the flexible (re)allocation of attention – an activity essential to activities of daily living. Here, we employed a task-switching paradigm (i.e., AABB) to determine whether a 20-min single-bout of exercise (via cycle ergometer) at a moderate intensity (80% of HRmax) facilitates the ability to efficiently and effectively switch between task-types. Participants (N=18) performed a task-switching paradigm pre- and post-exercise wherein responses alternated between stimulus-driven (SD) and minimally delay (MD) saccades. SD prosaccades require the evocation of a saccade at target onset, whereas MD saccade requires a response after target extinction and therefore require an executive mediated task-set Results showed that alternating from a MD to SD saccade resulted in an increase in RT (p<.05), whereas the converse switch did not (p=.12). More notably, the 'magnitude' of the aforementioned switch-cost reliably decreased from the pre- to post-exercise assessment by 18 ms (p=.017). Accordingly, results show that a single-bout of aerobic exercise facilitates task-switching efficiency and demonstrates that aerobic exercise provides a benefit to a constellation of executive-mediated functions.

Acknowledgments: Supported by NSERC