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Table of Contents
Vol. 32, No. 3, 2010
Issue release date: August 2010
Section title: Original Paper
Editor's Choice -- Free Access
Dev Neurosci 2010;32:249–256
(DOI:10.1159/000316648)

Basal Ganglia Volume Is Associated with Aerobic Fitness in Preadolescent Children

Chaddock L.a · Erickson K.I.c · Prakash R.S.d · VanPatter M.a · Voss M.W.a · Pontifex M.B.b · Raine L.B.b · Hillman C.H.b · Kramer A.F.a
aDepartment of Psychology, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, and bDepartment of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill., cDepartment of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., and dDepartment of Psychology, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA
email Corresponding Author

Laura Chaddock

Department of Psychology, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

405 North Mathews Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801 (USA)

Tel. +1 610 209 6836, Fax +1 217 333 2922, E-Mail lchaddo2@illinois.edu

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Abstract

The present investigation is the first to explore the association between childhood aerobic fitness and basal ganglia structure and function. Rodent research has revealed that exercise influences the striatum by increasing dopamine signaling and angiogenesis. In children, higher aerobic fitness levels are associated with greater hippocampal volumes, superior performance on tasks of attentional and interference control, and elevated event-related brain potential indices of executive function. The present study used magnetic resonance imaging to investigate if higher-fit and lower-fit 9- and 10-year-old children exhibited differential volumes of other subcortical brain regions, specifically the basal ganglia involved in attentional control. The relationship between aerobic fitness, dorsal and ventral striatum volumes and performance on an attention and inhibition Eriksen flanker task was also examined. The results indicated that higher-fit children showed superior flanker task performance compared to lower-fit children. Higher-fit children also showed greater volumes of the dorsal striatum, and dorsal striatum volume was negatively associated with behavioral interference. The results support the claim that the dorsal striatum is involved in cognitive control and response resolution and that these cognitive processes vary as a function of aerobic fitness. No relationship was found between aerobic fitness, the volume of the ventral striatum and flanker performance. The findings suggest that increased childhood aerobic fitness is associated with greater dorsal striatal volumes and that this is related to enhanced cognitive control. Because children are becoming increasingly overweight, unhealthy and unfit, understanding the neurocognitive benefits of an active lifestyle during childhood has important public health and educational implications.

© 2010 S. Karger AG, Basel


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Original Paper

Received: March 29, 2010
Accepted: August 06, 2010
Published online: August 06, 2010
Issue release date: August 2010

Number of Print Pages: 8
Number of Figures: 1
Number of Tables: 3

ISSN: 0378-5866 (Print)
eISSN: 1421-9859 (Online)

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