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Exercise, Executive Processes and the Aging Brain

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institute on Aging (NIA) Identifier:
First received: January 31, 2007
Last updated: December 10, 2009
Last verified: August 2008
The purpose of this study is to assess the effect of aerobic exercise on the brain and cognition through the measurement of neuroelectric and behavioral indices of executive control cognitive function in older adults.

Condition Intervention Phase
Behavioral: Minds in Motion
Phase 3

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Exercise, Executive Processes and the Aging Brain

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institute on Aging (NIA):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Changes in event-related brain potentials
  • reaction time
  • response accuracy

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • aerobic fitness

Estimated Enrollment: 100
Study Start Date: December 2006
Study Completion Date: May 2007
Primary Completion Date: May 2007 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

The aim of this research is to gain a better understanding of factors that relate to the increased health and effective functioning of older adults. Specifically, efficiency of psychomotor performance declines with advancing age leading to profound effects on older adults' quality of life. For this reason, researchers have focused on the influence that individual lifestyle habits have on the aging process. One lifestyle choice that has been found to positively contribute to the efficiency of older adults' psychomotor performance is cardiovascular exercise. This relationship appears to be especially significant when older adults are challenged with more complex or effortful tasks. Previous research has led investigators to believe that aging has a specific, rather than generalized, impact on cognitive functioning. Also, prolonged participation in cardiovascular exercise has been found to maintain the cognitive functioning critical for healthy aging.

Therefore, the purpose of this research is to examine the role of an organized 6-month cardiovascular exercise intervention trial on electrocortical (event-related brain potential) and behavioral measures (reaction time) of executive control. In addition, a non-cardiovascular exercise control group that participates in a 6-month stretching and toning program will be used for comparison. Participants will be measured before and after exercise training during engagement in several tasks designed to elicit different executive functions (e.g., discrimination, task switching, inhibition). Each task also contains a non-executive condition that will be used for comparison to examine the specificity of exercise participation of cognitive functioning. A secondary aim of this project is to determine the effects of an acute bout of exercise on cognitive functioning. Both groups will participate in several bouts of exercise followed by immediate measurement on the tasks outlined above to determine whether acute exercise has beneficial effects on executive processes. The significance of this research may include the increased understanding of factors related to the amelioration of age-related decrements in central nervous system functioning and recommendations for the maintenance of cognitive health during the later stages of life.


Ages Eligible for Study:   60 Years to 74 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 60-74 years of age
  • Sedentary (no physical activity in 6 last months)
  • Capable of performing exercise
  • Personal physician's examination and consent to participate in testing and exercise or control intervention
  • Successful completion of graded exercise test without evidence of cardiac abnormalities or responses
  • Adequate performance on the Mental Status measure
  • Corrected (near and far) acuity 20/40 or better
  • Initial depression score on GDS below clinical level
  • Not previously committed to leaving the Champaign County area for more than 1 month during the intervention period

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Below 60 years of age
  • Regular self-reported physical activity (2 times per week) in last six months
  • Any physical disability that prohibits mobility (walking), stretching etc.
  • Non-consent of physician
  • Evidence of abnormal cardiac responses or conditions during graded exercise testing
  • Three or more errors on the Mental Status measure
  • Corrected (near and far) acuity of greater than 20/40
  • Depression score on GDS indicative of clinical depression
  • Committed to leaving the Champaign County area for longer than 1 month during the intervention period
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00430976

United States, Illinois
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Illinois, United States, 61801
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Principal Investigator: Charles H. Hillman, PhD University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign