Although a generally positive effect of acute exercise on cognitive performance has been demonstrated, the specific nature of the relationship between exercise-induced arousal and cognitive performance remains unclear. This study was designed to identify the relationship between exercise-induced arousal and cognitive performance for the central and peripheral components of a response time task at two different levels of task difficulty. Sixteen male participants performed both simple and choice response time tasks at eight different arousal levels (from 20% to 90% heart rate reserve). Performance on the simple and choice response time tasks was examined after fractionating the response time into its central component, premotor time, and peripheral components, motor, and movement time. A priori trend analysis was used to test both linear and quadratic relationships. Results indicated that exercise-induced arousal has a positive influence on the peripheral components of response time tasks; however, it has a limited impact on the central components of these tasks.
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