Effects of a physical education intervention on cognitive function in young children: a randomized controlled pilot study

Abigail Fisher, James M. E. Boyle, James Y. Paton, Phillip Tomporowski, Christine Watson, John H. McColl, John J. Reilly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

60 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Randomized controlled trials (RCT) are required to test relationships
between physical activity and cognition in children, but these must be informed by exploratory studies. This study aimed to inform future RCT by: conducting practical utility and reliability studies to identify appropriate cognitive outcome measures; piloting an RCT of a 10 week physical education (PE) intervention which involved 2hours per week of aerobically intense PE compared to 2 hours of standard PE (control). 64 healthy children (mean age 6.2 yrs SD 0.3; 33 boys) recruited from 6 primary schools. Outcome measures were the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Battery (CANTAB), the Attention Network Test (ANT), the Cognitive Assessment System (CAS) and the short form of the Connor’s Parent Rating Scale (CPRS:S). Physical activity was measured habitually and during PE sessions using the Actigraph accelerometer. Test- retest intraclass correlations from CANTAB Spatial Span (r 0.51) and Spatial Working Memory Errors (0.59) and ANT Reaction Time (0.37) and ANT Accuracy (0.60) were significant, but low. Physical activity was significantly higher during intervention vs. control PE sessions (p <0.0001). There were no significant differences between intervention and control group changes in CAS scores. Differences between intervention and control groups favoring the intervention were observed for CANTAB Spatial Span, CANTAB Spatial Working Memory Errors, and
ANT Accuracy. The present study has identified practical and age-appropriate
cognitive and behavioral outcome measures for future RCT, and identified that
schools are willing to increase PE time.
LanguageEnglish
Number of pages28
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume11
Issue number97
Early online date28 Oct 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Fingerprint

Physical Education and Training
Cognition
Randomized Controlled Trials
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)
Exercise
Short-Term Memory
Control Groups
Neuropsychological Tests
Reaction Time

Keywords

  • physical education
  • cognitive function
  • children
  • randomised controlled trial
  • randomized control trial

Cite this

Fisher, Abigail ; Boyle, James M. E. ; Paton, James Y. ; Tomporowski, Phillip ; Watson, Christine ; McColl, John H. ; Reilly, John J. / Effects of a physical education intervention on cognitive function in young children : a randomized controlled pilot study. In: BMC Pediatrics. 2011 ; Vol. 11, No. 97.
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Effects of a physical education intervention on cognitive function in young children : a randomized controlled pilot study. / Fisher, Abigail; Boyle, James M. E. ; Paton, James Y.; Tomporowski, Phillip ; Watson, Christine; McColl, John H.; Reilly, John J.

In: BMC Pediatrics, Vol. 11, No. 97, 2011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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