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Effects of physical fitness on attention, memory and decision making in children.

Mokgothu, Comfort J. (2008) Effects of physical fitness on attention, memory and decision making in children. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The aim of this study was to determine whether there was a relationship between level of fitness and the information processing components of attention, memory and decision making in children. Based on existing evidence from studies on adults, it was predicted that higher-fit children would perform better on attention, memory and decision making tasks than their low-fit counterparts. It was predicted that higher-fit subjects would perform better than their lower-fit counterparts on: i) attention (dual task-tracking and discrete simple reaction time tasks), ii) memory (numeric vigilance and probed memory tasks), iii) decision making (discrete-6 choice reaction time tasks, and iv) executive function (Tower of Hanoi). Forty-seven male children from a local middle school were selected for the study. Based upon a cycle ergometer test, the top twenty receiving the highest fitness scores and the twenty with the lowest scores were selected to complete the cognitive tests. Subjects were required to perform six cognitive tests on a computer. Fitness level (higher-fit and lower-fit) was the main independent variable while the dependent variables were VO² max, fat percentage, resting heart rate and the measures from the cognitive tests. First, a fitness level ANOVA with predicted VO² max indicated that the groups did differ on the level of fitness. A group x memory capacity (8, 10) with repeated measures on memory length and a group x duration (80,100) with repeated measures on time were computed. The remaining dependent variables were analyzed by a fitness group ANOVA. The fitness level did not differentiate the subjects on attention, memory or decision making. There was a trend for the higher-fit to perform better than the lower-fit on simple and choice movement times, memory capacity and duration tests. Thus, the effects of aerobic fitness level on attention and memory capacity displayed a trend for higher-fit children to be slightly better than lower-fit children; however, these differences were not significant. Further studies need to continue to explore whether aerobic fitness levels have an impact on the components of children's information processing.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mokgothu, Comfort
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGallagher, Jere Dgal@pitt.eduGAL
Committee MemberFrank, Linda Rfrankie@pitt.eduFRANKIE
Committee MemberDuquin, Mary Emduquin@pitt.eduMDUQUIN
Committee MemberRobertson, Robert Jrrobert@pitt.eduRROBERT
Date: 29 January 2008
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 30 July 2007
Approval Date: 29 January 2008
Submission Date: 30 August 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Health, Physical, Recreational Education
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: aerobic fitness and cognition; attention; decisiom making; executive function; information processing; memory
Other ID:, etd-08302007-150241
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:49


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