Irene van der Fels: Movement, cognition and underlying brain functioning in children
Research has shown relations between movement and cognition in children. Furthermore, it has been shown that physical activity can positively influence cognition. However, it is unclear which type of physical activity has the most beneficial effects on cognition. Van der Fels investigated the relation between movement and cognition in 8-10 year old children. Furthermore, she investigated the effects of two physical activity interventions on physical aspects, cognition and brain functioning.
The findings show that motor skills are in particular related to those aspects of cognitive functions that are most involved in motor skills. Functional MRI was used to investigate whether brain functioning could explain the relation between motor skills and executive functions. However, this could not be demonstrated.
Subsequently, acute effects of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and cognitively engaging physical activity were investigated. There were no effects on response inhibition and attention. However, a dose-response relation was found, indicating that more time in MVPA during the interventions was related to better response inhibition and attention.
Next, the effects of two 14-week intervention programs, with moderate-to-vigorous or cognitively engaging physical activity, on fitness and motor skills were examined. There were no effects on fitness and motor skills at a group level. However, more time in MVPA was related to better fitness and motor skills. Furthermore, there were indications for changes in brain functioning because of physical activity, although the evidence was not convincing.
These results imply that the effectiveness of physical activity interventions in children depends on the amount of MVPA.