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Physical activity and fitness moderate the association between executive function and anti-correlated networks in the aging brain

Abstract

Physical activity and fitness have been shown to be neuroprotective in the aging process, but the exact mechanisms underlying this neuroprotection need to be further evaluated. The current study sought to examine the influence of physical activity and fitness on the association between executive function and the strength of anti-correlated brain networks in community-dwelling older adults. Participants were 51 older adults (M = 73 years, SD = 6) who participated in neuropsychological testing, physical activity and fitness measurements, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Moderated regression analysis was used to analyze the influence of physical activity and fitness on the association between cognitive performance and the anti-correlation between the Default Mode Network (DMN) and Dorsal Attention Network (DAN). There was a significant main effect of physical activity and fitness on executive function, and no main effect of DMN/DAN anti-correlations on executive function. There was a significant moderating effect of average steps and the 6-minute walk test (6MWT) on the relationship between DMN/DAN anti-correlations and executive function, suggesting that for individuals with the lowest levels of DMN/DAN anti-correlation, higher physical activity and fitness is associated with greater executive function. Results indicate physical activity and fitness may serve as protective factors for the aging brain.

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Correspondence to Marissa A. Gogniat.

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Gogniat, M.A., Robinson, T.L., Jean, K.R. et al. Physical activity and fitness moderate the association between executive function and anti-correlated networks in the aging brain. Sport Sci Health (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-021-00887-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-021-00887-9

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Activity
  • Fitness
  • Executive function
  • Connectivity