Aerobic exercise and neurocognitive performance: a meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects of aerobic exercise training on neurocognitive performance. Although the effects of exercise on neurocognition have been the subject of several previous reviews and meta-analyses, they have been hampered by methodological shortcomings and are now outdated as a result of the recent publication of several large-scale, randomized, controlled trials (RCTs). METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature review of RCTs examining the association between aerobic exercise training on neurocognitive performance between January 1966 and July 2009. Suitable studies were selected for inclusion according to the following criteria: randomized treatment allocation; mean age > or =18 years of age; duration of treatment >1 month; incorporated aerobic exercise components; supervised exercise training; the presence of a nonaerobic-exercise control group; and sufficient information to derive effect size data. RESULTS: Twenty-nine studies met inclusion criteria and were included in our analyses, representing data from 2049 participants and 234 effect sizes. Individuals randomly assigned to receive aerobic exercise training demonstrated modest improvements in attention and processing speed (g = 0.158; 95% confidence interval [CI]; 0.055-0.260; p = .003), executive function (g = 0.123; 95% CI, 0.021-0.225; p = .018), and memory (g = 0.128; 95% CI, 0.015-0.241; p = .026). CONCLUSIONS: Aerobic exercise training is associated with modest improvements in attention and processing speed, executive function, and memory, although the effects of exercise on working memory are less consistent. Rigorous RCTs are needed with larger samples, appropriate controls, and longer follow-up periods.

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Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181d14633

Publication Info

Smith, Patrick J, James A Blumenthal, Benson M Hoffman, Harris Cooper, Timothy A Strauman, Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer, Jeffrey N Browndyke, Andrew Sherwood, et al. (2010). Aerobic exercise and neurocognitive performance: a meta-analytic review of randomized controlled trials. Psychosom Med, 72(3). pp. 239–252. 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181d14633 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/13857.

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Scholars@Duke

Hoffman

Benson Mark Hoffman

Associate Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

I have a longstanding interest in the effects of cardiopulmonary disease on health-related quality of life, including depression, cognition, and sexual function. I also study the effects of coping, aerobic exercise, and lung transplantation on quality of life.

Cooper

Harris M. Cooper

Hugo L. Blomquist Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience

            Harris Cooper received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Connecticut in 1975. From 1977 to 2003, he was on the faculty at the University of Missouri. In 2003, he moved to Duke University where he is now Hugo L. Blomquist Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience. Dr. Cooper has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, the University of Oregon, and the Russell Sage Founda­tion in New York City.

            Dr. Cooper's research interests follow two paths. The first concerns research synthesis and research methodology. His book, Research Synthesis and Meta-Analysis: A Step-by-Step Approach (2017) is in its 5th edition. He is the co-editor of the Handbook of Research Synthe­sis and Meta-Analysis (3rd edition anticipated, 2018). Dr. Cooper and his students have published over 30 research syntheses, many of which appeared in varied prestigious journals including Psychologi­cal Bulletin, Review of Educational Research, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Marketing Research and Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. They have published over 40 articles on how to conduct research synthesis and meta-analysis. In 2007, Dr. Cooper was the recipient of the Frederick Mosteller Award for Contributions to Research Synthesis Methodology given by the International Campbell Collaboration. In 2008, he received the Ingram Olkin Award for Distinguished Lifetime Contribution to Research Synthesis from the Society for Research Synthesis Methodology.

Dr. Cooper was Editor-in-Chief of the American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology (2012). The Handbook includes over 100 chapters on various aspects of research design and analysis, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches to research. He chaired the first APA committee that developed guidelines for information about research that should be included in manuscripts submitted to APA journals. In 2011, he published a book on the topic, titled Reporting Research in Psychology: How to Meet the New Standards for Journal Articles (2nd edition anticipated, 2019).

            Dr. Cooper also studies the application of social and developmental psychology to education policy. In particular, he studies the relationship between time and learning. Most people think about how time relates to learning in terms of time in school (class time, instructional time, time-on-task). Dr. Cooper’s work zooms out from the school day rather than in. He focuses on issues related to (a) the school day and school calendar and (b) academic-related contexts children find themselves in when school is not in session.

            Dr. Cooper has studied homework for over 25 years. His synthesis of homework research received the 2007 Outstanding Review of Research Award from the American Educational Research Association. It also provided the evidence base for his guide to policy and practice, titled The Battle over Homework: Common Ground for Administrators, Teachers, and Parents (3rd edition, 2007). His research on homework has had an impact on schools nationwide. In addition to working directly with parents, schools and school districts, his work has been highlighted frequently in national media. He has been a guest on NBC Dateline, CBS This Morning, ABC Nightly News and Good Morning America, CNN Headline News, Nickelodeon Nick News, and The Oprah Winfrey Show. On radio, he has appeared on The Larry King Show, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Now Hear This, and the Mitch Ablom Show. Coverage of his work has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Readers´ Digest, the New Yorker and USA Today Weekend, as well as every major metropolitan newspaper. More specialized publications also have provided coverage of his work, including Parents, Parenting, and Child magazines, NEA Today, and The American Teacher.

           Dr. Cooper and his students also study the impact of school calendars and calendar variations on students and their families. Their research syntheses on summer learning loss and modified school calendars were published in Review of Educational Research. In 2000, their monograph titled Making the Most of Summer School was published by the Society for Research on Child Development. He and his students have also completed syntheses of research on the effects of full-day kindergarten and extending the school year and the school day (both published in Review of Educational Research, 2010). Most recently, Dr. Cooper and his students turned their attention to research on how well and with what affect students can grade their own and their peers’ academic assignments.

           From 1992 to 1998, Dr. Cooper served as an elected member of the Columbia, MO, Board of Education, at that time a school district with a $100 million budget serving 16,000 students. In 1997, he won the American Educational Research Association’s Award for Interpretive Scholarship for his article “Speaking Power to Truth: Reflections of an Educational Researcher after Four Years of School Board Service.” Dr. Cooper served on the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Use of Social Science Knowledge in Public Policy (2007-2012).

           Dr. Cooper served as editor for the Psychological Bulletin from 2003 through mid-2009. Psychological Bulletin is in the top 5 social science journals in total citations and impact factor. He was the Chair of the APA Council of Editors in 2006 and was a member of the committee that revised the APA Publication Manual (2010). In 2012, Dr. Cooper became the inaugural co-editor of the Archives of Scientific Psychology, APA’s first open methods, collaborative data sharing, open access journal. He remained as editor until 2015.

           From 2009 to 2015, Dr. Cooper served as the Chief Editorial Advisor for the APA’s journal publishing program. In this role, he served as a resource to the editors of APA’s 70+ journals as well as the mediator of disputes between editors and authors and between authors and authors. Dr. Cooper’s book, Ethical Choices in Research: Managing Data, Writing Reports, and Publishing Results in the Social Sciences (2016), draws from the experience as well as a review the related scholarship. The book goes beyond the proper treatment of human research subjects to examine frequently neglected ethical issues that arise after data has been collected.

           Dr. Cooper served as the Chair of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Duke University from 2009 to2014. He also served as Chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri and Director of Duke University’s Program in Education.

 

Welsh-Bohmer

Kathleen Anne Welsh-Bohmer

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Kathleen Welsh-Bohmer is a Professor of Psychiatry with a secondary appointment in the Department of Neurology.   

Clinically trained as a neuropsychologist, Dr. Welsh-Bohmer's research activities have been focused around developing effective prevention and treatment strategies to delay the onset of cognitive disorders occurring in later life.  From 2006 through 2018 she directed the Joseph and Kathleen Bryan Alzheimer’s Center in the Department of Neurology. She also oversaw the neuropsychology scientific operations of a ground-breaking Phase III global clinical trial to delay the onset of early clinical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease entitled the “TOMMORROW” study (Takeda Pharmaceutical Company funded) which concluded in 2018.

Currently, she directs the Alzheimer's disease therapeutic area within the Duke Clinical Research Institute and she collaborates actively with VeraSci, a Durham based company, to develop reliable digital cognitive and functional assessment tools of early Alzheimer's disease and related dementias.  The methods her team is developing are informed by advances in neuroscience and technology and fill an information void in early pre-clinical Alzheimer's disease. Her work has implications for clinical practice and for the acceleration of global clinical trials aimed at the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Browndyke

Jeffrey Nicholas Browndyke

Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Browndyke is an Associate Professor of Behavioral Health & Neurosciences in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.  He has a secondary appointment as Assistant Professor of Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery.

Dr. Browndyke's research interests involve the use of advanced neurocognitive and neuroimaging techniques for perioperative contributions to delirium and later dementia risk, monitoring of late-life neuropathological disease progression, and intervention/treatment outcomes.  His research also involves novel telehealth methods for remote neurocognitive evaluation and implementation of non-invasive neuromodulatory techniques to assist in postoperative recovery and dementia risk reduction.

Dr. Browndyke's clinical expertise is focused upon geriatric neuropsychology with an emphasis in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of dementia and related disorders in adults and US veteran patient populations.

Sherwood

Andrew Sherwood

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

My current research focus is on biological, behavioral and sociocultural factors involved in the etiology and management of hypertension, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure. The role of stress and the sympathetic nervous system in disease onset and progression is of central interest. Current research issues being studied include: (i) Ethnicity and gender as factors related to the pathogenesis of hypertension; (ii) Mechanisms by which menopause increases the risk of cardiovascular disease in women; (iii) Mechanisms by which stress may provoke episodes of myocardial ischemia in patients with coronary artery disease; (iv) Stress biomarkers that are associated with adverse clinical outcomes in cardiac patients; (v) The development of coping skills interventions to improve prognosis and quality of life in patients with congestive heart failure; (vi) Circadian blood pressure profiles for risk stratification in patients with hypertension; (vii) Biological and behavioral factors contributing to elevated nighttime blood pressure and blunted nighttime blood pressure dipping.

Comprehensive assessments of cardiovascular regulatory systems define the daily activity in the biobehavioral research laboratory. Assessments include: (i) hemodynamic (blood pressure, cardiac output, systemic vascular resistance) and neurohumoral responses (plasma epinephrine and norepinephrine) during psychological and physical stress testing; (ii) alpha and beta adrenergic receptor function, the baroreceptor reflex, and cardiac vagal control; (iii) endothelial function, and vascular structure and compliance; (iv) left ventricular structure and function by echocardiography; (v) 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure and cardiac output monitoring; (vi) Noninvasive assessments of arterial stiffness and central aortic pressure; (vii) Psychometric assessments of personality and lifestyle characteristics related to cardiovascular disease.

A secondary research interest is in the use and development of noninvasive techniques for evaluating the cardiovascular system. Developments include an ambulatory impedance cardiography system, permitting assessment of 24-hour hemodynamics during normal daily activities, and biomarkers of cardiovascular risk obtained using ultrasound imaging.

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