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Effects of a maximal exercise test on neurocognitive function
  1. Tracey Covassin1,
  2. Leigh Weiss1,
  3. John Powell1,
  4. Christopher Womack2
  1. 1Michigan State University, Michigan, USA
  2. 2James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T Covassin
 Michigan State University, Department of Kinesiology, 105 IM Sport Circle, East Lansing Michigan 48824, USA; covassin{at}msu.edu

Abstract

Objective: To examine the effects of a maximal exercise test on cognitive function in recreational athletes.

Design: A repeated-measures design was used to compare baseline with post-cognitive function and fatigue symptoms after a maximal exercise test.

Setting: Division 1 American Midwestern University, (Michigan State University, Michigan, USA).

Participants: 102 male and female recreational athletes.

Intervention: Participants in the experimental group (n = 54) were asked to perform a maximal treadmill exercise test to maximal oxygen uptake (VO2 max). Participants in the control group were asked to rest for 15 min.

Main outcome measurements: All participants were administered a neuropsychological test battery called Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) before and after exercise to measure neurocognitive function and fatigue symptoms.

Results: Results revealed a significant group (control, experimental)×time (baseline, post-test 1, post-test 2) interaction for verbal memory composite scores (p = 0.025). Specifically, verbal memory composite scores decreased in the experimental group from baseline to post-test 1 (p = 0.00). These values returned to baseline 3 days after the Vo2 max test (p = 0.00). Further analysis on verbal memory composite scores demonstrated significant differences on immediate recall memory (p = 0.00) and delayed recall memory (p = 0.00). No significant differences were observed for visual memory (p = 0.54), motor processing speed (p = 0.68) and reaction time (p = 0.44) composite scores between the experimental and control groups.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that a maximal exercise test attenuated a limiting effect on cognitive function. When utilising a neuropsychological test battery to evaluate a patient who has sustained a head injury, the test should not be administered immediately after a practice or a game session.

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Footnotes

  • Published Online First 15 January 2007

  • Competing interests: JP was a member of the design team of ImPACT.

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