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Tom Bullock, James Elliott, John Serences, Barry Giesbrecht; Acute aerobic exercise modulates feature selectivity in human visual cortex. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):1066. doi: 10.1167/15.12.1066.
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Multiple cognitive functions can be modulated by acute bouts of aerobic physical exercise (Chang et al. 2012). Behavioral changes during exercise are likely accompanied by fluctuations in patterns of neural activity, but a comprehensive understanding of these effects remains elusive. For example, it is unclear whether exercise induced changes in cognition reflect non-specific effects on task performance, or whether they are specific to the task that is being performed while engaged in physical activity. We investigated this issue by testing whether acute exercise causes an additive, non-specific shift in feature-based attentional selectivity, or if it causes a multiplicative gain in selectivity. We used electroencephalography (EEG, 64 electrodes) and a gaze-contingent task that enabled orientation-selective profiles to be estimated from steady-state evoked potential (SSVEP) responses (Garcia, Srinivasan & Serences, 2013). For each trial, participants (n=3) fixated at the center of a flickering (15 Hz) circular grating presented at one of nine different orientations and monitored for a brief duration clockwise or counter-clockwise shift, and then indicated the direction of the shift at the end of the trial. Participants completed the task at rest while seated on a stationary exercise bike (mean heart rate (HR) = 68 BPM), during low intensity cycling exercise (mean HR = 103.3 BPM, mean rating of perceived exertion (RPE) = 8) and during high intensity cycling exercise (mean HR = 151.7, mean RPE = 13). The feature-selective response functions estimated from the EEG data revealed enhanced peak amplitude during low intensity (mean = .41 μV, SEM = .04 μV), and high intensity exercise (mean = .42, SEM = .05 μV) when compared to rest (mean = .29 μV, SEM = .04 μV). These findings suggest that acute bouts of aerobic exercise modulate visual cortical responses and that these modulations can be manifested as a multiplicative gain on estimated feature-selective response profiles.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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