Physical Exercise and Cognitive Enhancement
The relationship between physical exercise and cognitive function is well documented and supported by decades of experimental research. Beyond the robust effect of mere aerobic exercise on cognition, new trends of research suggest promising alternatives that can extend upon typical cognitive gains and have the capacity to be adapted to diverse populations. This chapter summarizes recent work in this field, and presents new experimental evidence for integrated activities combining physical and cognitive demands. Besides refining theoretical models of cognition, this line of work also has direct applications to cognitive training programs, and to cognitive remediation in particular. Training regimens that exploit the heightened neural plasticity naturally occurring in childhood are particularly promising, as they can induce extensive gains at critical times. Finally, the potential to incorporate such activities in the classroom is discussed, along with more general guidelines to maximize meaningful cognitive improvements across the lifespan.