IMR Press / JIN / Volume 21 / Issue 4 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin2104122
Open Access Original Research
Effect of Intermittent Exercise on Performance in 3D Multiple Objects Tracking in Children, Young and Older Adults—A Pilot Study
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1 Institute of Sport and Movement Science, Department of Sport Psychology and Human Movement Science, University of Stuttgart, 70569 Stuttgart, Germany
2 Institute of Movement Therapy and Movement-oriented Prevention and Rehabilitation, German Sport University Cologne, 50933 Köln, Germany
*Correspondence: (Nadja Schott)
These authors contributed equally.
Academic Editors: Pasquale Calabrese and Pietro Caliandro
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2022, 21(4), 122;
Submitted: 18 January 2022 | Revised: 4 April 2022 | Accepted: 18 April 2022 | Published: 30 June 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The role of acute and chronic exercise on cognitive function)
Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s). Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license.

Background: Although an extensive body of literature is trying to verify the acute effects of exercise, findings are highly contradictory due to many different study protocols. The number of studies using an intermittent exercise (IE) protocol is limited, especially with regard to comparison across the life span. We examined whether the effects of a HIIE protocol on performance in a perceptual-cognitive task (NeuroTracker® (NT)) differed between children, young adults, and older adults to address this gap. Methods: A total of 36 participants participated in the present study: 12 children (CH, 6 females, 9.83 ± 1.19 years), 12 young adults (YA, 6 females, 23.5 ± 3.55 years), and 12 older adults (OA, 4 females, 66.92 ± 4.08 years). The IE treadmill protocol used in the present study consisted of eleven 30-second intervals at 90% VO2max, interspersed with 2-minute active recovery periods at 50% VO2max. Before and during this exercise protocol, three series of the NeuroTracker® task were performed after 5, 15, and 25 minutes. Results: We observed a significant main effect time and a significant main effect group regarding absolute NT scores and progression during IE. YA had significantly higher absolute NT scores than CH and OA. The normalized perceptual-cognitive task progression was observed in OA and YA but not in CH. YA, in particular, showed progression in the NT performance during IE. Conclusions: The present study confirmed previous findings on age-related differences in NT performance. Based on these findings, the effects of different exercise protocols (e.g., continuous vs. intermittent) seem to be a worthwhile subject for future investigations. Normalized speed thresholds should best capture improvement differences between groups to compare results across studies better, as pre-test values are taken as the baseline.

perceptual-cognitive performance
high-intensity interval exercise
acute exercise
executive function
multiple object tracking
Fig. 1.
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