Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Executive Function and Attention in Adult Patients With ADHD

Author(s): Mehren A, Özyurt J, Lam AP, Brandes M, Müller HHO, et al.


Aerobic exercise can improve cognitive functions in healthy individuals and in various clinical groups, which might be particularly relevant for patients with ADHD. This study investigated the effects of a single bout of aerobic exercise on attention and executive functions in adult patients with ADHD, including functional MRI to examine the underlying neural mechanisms. On two different days, 23 adult patients with ADHD and 23 matched healthy controls performed in a flanker task, while functional MR images were collected, following 30 min of continuous stationary cycling with moderate intensity as well as after a control condition (watching a movie). Behavioral performance and brain activation were tested for differences between groups and conditions and for interactions to investigate whether exercise improves executive function to a greater extent in patients compared to healthy controls. Exercise significantly improved reaction times in congruent and incongruent trials of the flanker task in patients with ADHD but not in healthy controls. We found no changes in brain activation between the two conditions for either group. However, a subgroup analysis of ADHD patients with a higher degree of cardiorespiratory fitness revealed decreased activation in premotor areas during congruent trials and in premotor and medial frontal cortex during incongruent trials in the exercise compared to the control condition. Our results indicate exercise-induced improvements in attention and processing speed in patients with ADHD, demonstrating that adult patients with ADHD may benefit from an acute bout of exercise. These findings could be of high relevance for developing alternative treatment approaches for ADHD. In addition, results of the current study contribute to elucidate the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of exercise on cognition and to better understand the role of cardiorespiratory fitness on these effects.

Similar Articles

Virtual Reality-Based Exercise with Exergames as Medicine in Different Contexts: A Short Review

Author(s): Costa MTS, Vieira LP, Barbosa EO, Mendes Oliveira L, Maillot P, et al.

High-Intensity Aerobic Exercise Acutely Increases Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor

Author(s): Ross RE, Saladin ME, George MS, Gregory CM

Differential cognitive effects of energy drink ingredients: Caffeine, taurine, and glucose

Author(s): Giles GE, Mahoney CR, Brunyé TT, Gardony AL, Taylor HA, et al.

Cognitive influence of a 5-h ENERGY® shot: Are effects perceived or real?

Author(s): Buckenmeyer PJ, Bauer JA, Hokanson JF, Hendrick JL