European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 111, Issue 9, pp 1973–1982 | Cite as

Does cerebral oxygenation affect cognitive function during exercise?

  • Soichi Ando
  • Masahiro Kokubu
  • Yosuke Yamada
  • Misaka Kimura
Original Article


This study tested whether cerebral oxygenation affects cognitive function during exercise. We measured reaction times (RT) of 12 participants while they performed a modified version of the Eriksen flanker task, at rest and while cycling. In the exercise condition, participants performed the cognitive task at rest and while cycling at three workloads [40, 60, and 80% of peak oxygen uptake (\( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} \))]. In the control condition, the workload was fixed at 20 W. RT was divided into premotor and motor components based on surface electromyographic recordings. The premotor component of RT (premotor time) was used to evaluate the effects of acute exercise on cognitive function. Cerebral oxygenation was monitored during the cognitive task over the right frontal cortex using near-infrared spectroscopy. In the exercise condition, we found that premotor time significantly decreased during exercise at 60% peak \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} \) relative to rest. However, this improvement was not observed during exercise at 80% peak \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} \). In the control condition, premotor time did not change during exercise. Cerebral oxygenation during exercise at 60% peak \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} \) was not significantly different from that at rest, while cerebral oxygenation substantially decreased during exercise at 80% peak \( \dot{V}{\text{O}}_{ 2} \). The present results suggest that an improvement in cognitive function occurs during moderate exercise, independent of cerebral oxygenation.


Premotor time Reaction time Near-infrared spectroscopy Hyperventilation 



This study was supported in part by a grant from the Descente and Ishimoto Memorial Foundation for the Promotion of Sports Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Soichi Ando
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Masahiro Kokubu
    • 3
  • Yosuke Yamada
    • 3
  • Misaka Kimura
    • 1
  1. 1.School of NursingKyoto Prefectural University of MedicineKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Osaka University of Health and Sport SciencesKumatoriJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Human and Environmental StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Faculty of Sports and Health ScienceFukuoka UniversityFukuokaJapan

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