Cognitive enhancement by transcranial laser stimulation and acute aerobic exercise
- 856 Downloads
This is the first randomized, controlled study comparing the cognitive effects of transcranial laser stimulation and acute aerobic exercise on the same cognitive tasks. We examined whether transcranial infrared laser stimulation of the prefrontal cortex, acute high-intensity aerobic exercise, or the combination may enhance performance in sustained attention and working memory tasks. Sixty healthy young adults were randomly assigned to one of the following four treatments: (1) low-level laser therapy (LLLT) with infrared laser to two forehead sites while seated (total 8 min, 1064 nm continuous wave, 250 mW/cm2, 60 J/cm2 per site of 13.6 cm2); (2) acute exercise (EX) of high-intensity (total 20 min, with 10-min treadmill running at 85–90 % VO2max); (3) combined treatment (LLLT + EX); or (4) sham control (CON). Participants were tested for prefrontal measures of sustained attention with the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) and working memory with the delayed match-to-sample task (DMS) before and after the treatments. As compared to CON, both LLLT and EX reduced reaction time in the PVT [F(1.56) = 4.134, p = 0.01, η 2 = 0.181] and increased the number of correct responses in the DMS [F(1.56) = 4.690, p = 0.005, η 2 = 0.201], demonstrating a significant enhancing effect of LLLT and EX on cognitive performance. LLLT + EX effects were similar but showed no significantly greater improvement on PVT and DMS than LLLT or EX alone. The transcranial infrared laser stimulation and acute aerobic exercise treatments were similarly effective for cognitive enhancement, suggesting that they augment prefrontal cognitive functions similarly.
KeywordsLow-level laser therapy Photobiomodulation Cognitive enhancement Transcranial laser stimulation Acute aerobic exercise
The authors thank the Kinetic kidz laboratory members including Yen T. Chen, Jihoon Kim, Yeonhak Jung, Jeremy Setty, Hannah G. Calvert, and Elizabeth M. Glowacki for their help with data collection. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Douglas Barrett for their support with the cognitive tasks and Dr. R. Matthew Brothers and Dr. John L. Ivy for their support of our research. JH did this study in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Ph.D. degree at The University of Texas at Austin. Research reported in this publication was supported by FGL from an institutional research fellowship from the College of Liberals Arts of the University of Texas at Austin. FGL holds the endowed George I. Sanchez Centennial Professorship in Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
- 3.Rojas JC, Gonzalez-Lima F (2011) Low-level light therapy of the eye and brain. Eye Brain 3:49–67Google Scholar
- 17.Naeser MA, Zafonte R, Krengel MH, Martin PI, Frazier J, Hamblin MR, Knight JA, Meehan WP 3rd, Baker EH (2014) Significant improvements in cognitive performance post-transcranial, red/near-infrared light-emitting diode treatments in chronic, mild traumatic brain injury: open-protocol study. J Neurotrauma 31:1008–1017CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 31.Kaufman AS, Kaufman NL (1990) Kaufman brief intelligence test. American Guidance Service, Circle Pnes, pp 1–9Google Scholar
- 32.Chudasama Y (2010) Delayed (non)match-to-sample task. Encyclopedia of Psychopharmacology, I. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, p 372–372Google Scholar
- 34.Schiffer F, Johnston AL, Ravichandran C, Polcari A, Teicher MH, Webb RH, Hamblin MR (2009) Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Behav Brain Funct 5:46CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 36.Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, Franklin BA, Lamonte MJ, Lee IM, Nieman DC, Swain DP (2011) American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43:1334–1359CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar