Acute exercise can positively impact cognition. The present study examined the effect of acute high-intensity aerobic exercise on prefrontal-dependent cognitive performance and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Fifty-eight young adults were randomly assigned to one of two experimental groups: (a) an acute bout of high-intensity exercise (n=29) or (b) a non-exercise control (n=29). Participants in the exercise group improved performance on inhibitory control in Stroop interference and on cognitive flexibility in Trail Making Test (TMT) Part-B compared with participants in the control group and increased BDNF immediately after exercise. There was a significant relationship between BDNF and TMT Part-B on the pre-post change following exercise. These findings provide support for the association between improved prefrontal-dependent cognitive performance and increased BDNF in response to acute exercise. We conclude that the changes in BDNF concentration may be partially responsible for prefrontal-dependent cognitive functioning following an acute bout of exercise.
Keywords: Aerobic exercise; Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Cognition; Young adults.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.