Skip to content

Cognitive impairment during high-intensity exercise: influence of cerebral blood flow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Takaaki Komiyama
  • Yukiya Tanoue
  • Mizuki Sudo
  • Dr Joseph Costello
  • Yoshinari Uehara
  • Yasuki Higaki
  • Soichi Ando
Purpose: Cognitive performance appears to be impaired during high-intensity exercise, and this occurs concurrently with a reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF). However, it is unclear whether cognitive impairment during high-intensity exercise is associated with reduced CBF. We tested the hypothesis that a reduction in CBF is responsible for impaired cognitive performance during high-intensity exercise.

Methods: Using a randomized crossover design seventeen healthy males performed spatial delayed-response (DR) and Go/No-Go tasks in three conditions [Exercise (EX), Exercise+CO2 (EX+CO2), and a non-exercising Control (CON)]. In the EX and EX+CO2, they performed cognitive tasks at rest and during 8-mins of moderate and high-intensity exercise. Exercise intensity corresponded to ~50% (moderate) and ~80% (high) of peak oxygen uptake. In the EX+CO2, the participants inspired hypercapnic gas (2% CO2) during high-intensity exercise. In the CON, they performed the cognitive tasks without exercise. 

Results: Middle cerebral artery mean velocity (MCAv) increased during high-intensity exercise in the EX+CO2 relative to the EX [69.4 (10.6) cm.s-1, vs. 57.2 (7.7) cm.s-1, P < 0.001]. Accuracy of the cognitive tasks was impaired during high-intensity exercise in the EX [84.1 (13.3) %, P < 0.05] and the EX+CO2 [85.7 (11.6) %, P < 0.05] relative to rest [EX: 95.1 (5.3) %, EX+CO2: 95.1 (5.3) %]. However, no differences between the EX and the EX+CO2 were observed (P > 0.10). These results demonstrate that restored CBF did not prevent cognitive impairment during high-intensity exercise. 

Conclusion: We conclude that a reduction in CBF is not responsible for impaired cognitive performance during high-intensity exercise.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports & Exercise
Early online date9 Oct 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 9 Oct 2019


  • Cognitive impairment during high-intensity exercise

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 616 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 9/10/20

    Licence: CC BY-NC

Related information

Relations Get citation (various referencing formats)

ID: 15919811