A review of chronic and acute physical activity participation on neuroelectric measures of brain health and cognition during childhood

Prev Med. 2011 Jun;52 Suppl 1:S21-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.01.024. Epub 2011 Jan 31.


Background: A growing body of research has detailed the beneficial relation of chronic participation in--and acute responses to--physical activity on aspects of cognition that underlie scholastic achievement. Here, we review the relevant neuroelectric findings on this beneficial relation in children, providing support for the influence of physical activity on specific cognitive processes that comprise academic performance.

Method: A review of studies examining physical activity and neuroelectric concomitants of cognition during childhood is described. When applicable, research involving adult populations is also described to better inform on this relationship in children.

Results: Collectively, the data support a beneficial relation of chronic and acute participation in physical activity to brain health and cognition. The results suggest more effective allocation of cognitive processes involved in stimulus engagement and action monitoring during tasks requiring variable amounts of cognitive control in children.

Conclusion: Physical activity may influence brain health and cognition in children, leading to enhanced scholastic performance and greater overall effective functioning across the lifespan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Sports / physiology
  • Young Adult