Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The influence of cardiorespiratory fitness on the modulation of cognitive control was assessed in preadolescent children separated into higher- and lower-fit groups. Participants completed compatible and incompatible stimulus–response conditions of a modified flanker task, consisting of congruent and incongruent arrays, while ERPs and task performance were concurrently measured. Findings revealed decreased response accuracy for lower- relative to higher-fit participants with a selectively larger deficit in response to the incompatible stimulus–response condition, requiring the greatest amount of cognitive control. In contrast, higher-fit participants maintained response accuracy across stimulus–response compatibility conditions. Neuroelectric measures indicated that higher-fit, relative to lower-fit, participants exhibited global increases in P3 amplitude and shorter P3 latency, as well as greater modulation of P3 amplitude between the compatible and incompatible stimulus–response conditions. Similarly, higher-fit participants exhibited smaller error-related negativity (ERN) amplitudes in the compatible condition, and greater modulation of the ERN between the compatible and incompatible conditions, relative to lower-fit participants who exhibited large ERN amplitudes across both conditions. These findings suggest that lower-fit children may have more difficulty than higher-fit children in the flexible modulation of cognitive control processes to meet task demands.