Princeton University Library Catalog

An Exploration of the Effects of Chronic Exercise on Executive Control Function Across Gender

Ronde, Sara [Browse]
Senior thesis
Taylor, Jordan [Browse]
Princeton University. Department of Psychology [Browse]
Class year:
61 pages
Summary note:
It is widely accepted that exercise strengthens executive control functions; however, this relationship remains understudied in children. Further, this relationship has yet to be explicitly examined across gender, to assess if exercise differentially affects executive functions in males versus females. The primary aim of this study was to address this gap in the literature, using a mixed subject design. 221 children (aged 7-9) were randomly assigned to one of two treatment conditions—a 9-month exercise intervention program, or a waitlist control. Cognitive measures were assessed both before and after the treatment condition via behavioral and neuroelectric responses to a modified Eriksen flanker task and a color-shape switch task paradigm. Specific analyses were subsequently conducted to assess gender differences across relevant cognitive and physiological variables. It was hypothesized that females would display larger cognitive and physiological improvements as a result of exercise intervention. The results instead indicated that both genders show similar fitness, response accuracy, and attentional resource allocation improvements as a result of exercise intervention. These findings reiterate the importance of physical activity in the lives of young children, regardless of gender.