Introduction: Exercise, and in particular balance and coordination related activities such as dance, appear to have positive effects on cognitive function, as well as neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia and Parkinson's disease. Quadrupedal gait training is a movement system requiring coordination of all four limbs that has previously been associated with cognitive development in children. There is currently little research into the effect of complex QDP movements on cognitive function in adults.
Purpose: To determine the effects of a novel four-week quadrupedal gait training programme on markers of cognitive function and joint reposition sense in healthy adults.
Methods: Twenty-two physically active sports science students (15 male and 7 female) were divided into two groups: a training group (TG) and a control group (CG). All participants completed the Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST) and were tested for joint reposition sense before and after a four-week intervention, during which time the TG completed a series of progressive and challenging quadrupedal movement training sessions.
Results: Participants in the TG showed significant improvements in the WCST, with improvements in perseverative errors, non-perseverative errors, and conceptual level response. This improvement was not found in the CG. Joint reposition sense also improved for the TG, but only at 20degrees of shoulder flexion.
Conclusions: Performance of a novel, progressive, and challenging task, requiring the coordination of all 4 limbs, has a beneficial impact on cognitive flexibility, and in joint reposition sense, although only at the specific joint angle directly targeted by the training. The findings are consistent with other studies showing improvements in executive function and joint reposition sense following physical activity.
Keywords: Cognition; Coordinative exercise; Executive function; Movement.
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