Relationship between going outdoors daily and activation of the prefrontal cortex during verbal fluency tasks (VFTs) among older adults: a near-infrared spectroscopy study

Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2013 Jan-Feb;56(1):118-23. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2012.08.017. Epub 2012 Sep 17.


This study sought to investigate the relationship between going outdoor daily and prefrontal cortex activation during execution of the VFT using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) in community-dwelling older adults. Blood oxygenation changes in left and right prefrontal cortices were measured in twenty older adults (mean age 76.1 ± 6.7 years) by NIRS during VFT performance. In this task, participants were required to pronounce as many nouns as possible beginning with the letters "Shi," "I," and "Re." Changes in oxygenated hemoglobin (oxy-Hb) levels during the VFT were compared between two groups defined by the frequency of going outdoors: daily or non-daily within a week. Participants in both groups exhibited significantly increased oxy-Hb levels in the left and right prefrontal cortices during the VFT compared to a resting baseline condition. After controlling for age and gender, there were significant group-by-condition interactions on oxy-Hb levels with less activation during the execution of the VFT over both cortices in the non-daily group (left: F=4.76, p=0.04; right: F=6.32, p=0.02). These findings indicate that going outdoors daily is associated with increased activation in the prefrontal cortices during VFT performance in community-dwelling older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Oxyhemoglobins / metabolism
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Spectroscopy, Near-Infrared* / methods
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology*


  • Oxyhemoglobins