Executive function and endocrinological responses to acute resistance exercise

Chia Liang Tsai, Chun Hao Wang, Chien Yu Pan, Fu Chen Chen, Tsang Hai Huang, Feng Ying Chou

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49 Citations (Scopus)


This study had the following two aims: First, to explore the effects of acute resistance exercise (RE, i.e., using exercise machines to contract and stretch muscles) on behavioral and electrophysiological performance when performing a cognitive task involving executive functioning in young male adults; Second, to investigate the potential biochemical mechanisms of such facilitative effects using two neurotrophic factors [i.e., growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)] and the cortisol levels elicited by such an exercise intervention mode with two different exercise intensities. Sixty young male adults were recruited and randomly assigned to a high-intensity (HI) exercise group, moderate-intensity (MI) exercise group, and non-exercise-intervention (NEI) group. Blood samples were taken, and the behavioral and electrophysiological indices were simultaneously measured when individuals performed a Go/No-Go task combined with the Erikson Flanker paradigm at baseline and after either an acute bout of 30 min of moderate- or high-intensity RE or a control period. The results showed that the acute RE could not only benefit the subjects' behavioral (i.e., RTs and accuracy) performance, as found in previous studies, but also increase the P3 amplitude. Although the serum GH and IGF-1 levels were significantly increased via moderate or high intensity RE in both the MI and HI groups, the increased serum levels of neurotrophic factors were significantly decreased about 20 min after exercise. In addition, such changes were not correlated with the changes in cognitive (i.e., behavioral and electrophysiological) performance. In contrast, the serum levels of cortisol in the HI and MI groups were significantly lower after acute RE, and the changes in cortisol levels were significantly associated with the changes in electrophysiological (i.e., P3 amplitude) performance. The findings suggest the beneficial effects of acute RE on executive functioning could be due to changes in arousal, possibly modulated by the serum cortisol levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number262
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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