The Association of Obesity and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Relation to Cognitive Flexibility: An Event-Related Potential Study

Tai Fen Song, Chien Heng Chu, Jui Ti Nien, Ruei Hong Li, Hsin Yi Wang, Ai Guo Chen*, Yi Chieh Chang*, Kao Teng Yang*, Yu Kai Chang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates an association between obesity and cardiorespiratory fitness concerning their potential effects on cognitive flexibility in young adults from behavioral and neuroelectrical perspectives. Eligible young adults (N = 140, 18–25 years) were assigned into one of four groups, according to their status of obesity (i.e., body mass index) and cardiorespiratory fitness levels (i.e., estimated maximal oxygen uptake), namely, normal weight with high cardiorespiratory fitness (NH), obese with high cardiorespiratory fitness (OH), normal weight with low cardiorespiratory fitness (NL), and obese with low cardiorespiratory fitness (OL). The task-switching test was utilized, and its induced endogenous (P3) and exogenous (N1) event-related potential components were recorded. Concerning behavioral indices, the NH demonstrated superior behavioral performance across global switching and local switching of the task-switching test compared to individuals with lower cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity (i.e., NL, OH, and OL). Additionally, the OH demonstrated better performance than the OL during the heterogeneous condition. For neuroelectrical indices, the NH had larger mean P3 amplitudes during global and local switching than the other three groups. A larger N1 amplitude was also observed in the NH during local switching than in the OH group. The findings suggest that cardiorespiratory fitness has beneficial effects on cognitive flexibility, attentional resource allocation, and sensory evaluation in young adults. Furthermore, our research provided novel evidence showing that cardiorespiratory fitness might potentially alleviate the adverse effects of obesity on cognitive flexibility in young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number862801
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May 9


  • N1
  • P3
  • event-related potentials
  • fitness
  • obesity
  • shifting
  • task-switching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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