Physically fit kids have ‘superior language skills


Washington: Researchers have claimed that kids who are physically fit have faster and more robust neuro-electrical brain responses during reading than their less-fit peers.

According to the researchers who did a study using the top fitness trackers for kids over a 3-6 month period, new findings do not prove that higher fitness directly influences the changes seen in the electrical activity of the brain but offer a potential mechanism to explain why fitness correlates so closely with better cognitive performance on a variety of tasks.

University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Charles Hillman, who led the research with graduate student Mark Scudder and psychology professor Kara Federmeier, said all they know is there is something different about higher and lower fit kids.

He said that now whether that difference is caused by fitness or maybe some third variable that (affects) both fitness and language processing, they don’t know yet.

The researchers used electroencephalography ( EEG), placing an electrode cap on the scalp to capture some of the electrical impulses associated with brain activity. The squiggly readouts from the electrodes look like seismic readings captured during an earthquake, and characteristic wave patterns are associated with different tasks.

These patterns are called “event-related potentials” ( ERPs), and vary according to the person being evaluated and the nature of the stimulus, Scudder said.

The researchers found that children who were more fit (as measured by oxygen uptake during exercise) had higher amplitude N400 and P600 waves than their less-fit peers when reading normal or nonsensical sentences. The N400 also had shorter latency in children who were more fit, suggesting that they processed the same information more quickly than their peers.

The new findings have been published in the journal Brain and Cognition


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