Cardiovascular Fitness: Offsets Decline in Cognitive Performance

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Cynthia Fernandez
Assignment 1
Jan 26, 2012

Stanley J. Colcombe, Arthur F. Kramer, Kirk I. Erickson, Paige Scalf, Edward McAuley, Neal J. Cohen, Andrew Webb, Gerry J. Jerome, David X. Marquez, and Steriani Elavsky. (2004). Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging, PNAS, Vol 101(9), 3316-3321

To begin, this articles starts off stating that “cardiovascular fitness is thought to offset declines in cognitive performance..” which gave me insight on what the article was about, along with the title. This article was mainly explaining two studies conducted to show whether cardiovascular fitness training had positive results in brain plasticity. The motivation came from prior research using animal models that showed aerobic training increased synaptic connections, the development of new neurons, and cortical capillary supplies. This resulted in a more plastic, efficient and ultimately healthier brain.

Moreover, Study 1 was a cross-sectional assessment that involved 41 high-functioning older adults who were prescreened for psychiatric disability, dementia, and appropriateness for being MRI tested. Participants were also tested on their vision, and those that didn’t have 20/20 were given corrective lenses. The fitness assessment evaluated in this study was called the Rockport 1 mile walk test. A formula combining height, weight, heart rate, and time to complete the walk gave the final estimates of the maximal oxygen uptake (VO2). 15 of the participants performed in treadmill based assessments. According to the article, the fitness test was valid due to the correlation between the Rockport test and the treadmill VO2 scores. In another session in study 1, a flanker task was performed. Participants were asked to respond to the middle arrow in a row of arrows either pointing the same direction or opposite directions. Each was presented half the time. They were scanned with an echo planar imaging device. There were 145 images for each participant for...
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