Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Degree

Spring 2015

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Stewart W. Ehly

Abstract

The purpose of the study was to identify the effect of a single bout of moderately intense aerobic exercise on measures of executive function in young adults with ADHD. Thirty-two young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years old were randomly assigned to either an acute exercise group or a control group. The exercise protocol was designed to address the methodological shortcomings in the exercise and executive function literature, and involved cycling on a stationary bike at moderate intensity for 30 minutes. Participants completed executive function tasks related to set shifting, working memory, and inhibition prior to and immediately following the treatment session. Results of the study reveal that acute exercise facilitated performance on the Stroop Color-Word task when compared to sedentary controls. However, unlike previous research on healthy adults, no improvements on the other measures of executive function were observed. These findings suggest that young adults with ADHD may specifically benefit from acute exercise on aspects of executive function related to the Stroop Color-Word measure. In conclusion, further research on this topic should continue to investigate this population, as well as consider the relationship between acute exercise and additional neuropsychological measures of inhibition, set shifting, and working memory in order to better determine the effects on each construct.

Public Abstract

The purpose of the study was to identify how participating in the daily recommended amount of exercise as per the US CDC would improve an area of cognition related to attention and memory in a population known for difficulties in attention and memory. To determine this relationship, thirty-two young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years old were assigned to either an acute exercise group or a control group and administered tests of attention and memory. Individuals in the exercise group participated in 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling on a stationary bike, whereas individuals in the control group read for the same time period. Both groups completed the cognitive tasks related to attention and memory prior to and immediately following the exercise or reading session. Results of the study reveal that when compared to sedentary controls, individuals that performed a single bout of exercise had greater performance on one aspect of attention and memory, as measured by the Stroop Color-Word task. However, unlike previous research on healthy adults, individuals with ADHD are known for its difficulties with attention and memory did not display improvements on the other two measures of attention and memory. These findings suggest that individuals with ADHD may specifically benefit from a single bout of exercise on aspects of attention and memory related to the Stroop Color-Word measure. In conclusion, this study displayed some cognitive benefits of participating in just one dose of daily recommended exercise. This study calls for additional research with regards to what other aspects of cognition or cognitive tests related can exercise improve, as well as draw the question of how else to maximize the cognitive gains produced by exercise.

Keywords

publicabstract, Acute exercise, ADHD, Executive Function, Physical activity

Pages

viii, 72 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 61-72).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Gerald John Jones

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