This is the title of our new preprint, published in PsyArXiv, where we review the evidence in favor of the novel hypothesis that physical exercise enhances cognitive performance by improving interoception.
Last month my colleague Luis Ciria and I, gave a two-day workshop that focused on how to use the Matlab toolbox eeglab to create heartbeat-evoked events, extract epochs from the continuous EEG signal based on these events, and use Fieldtrip to perform a cluster-based permutation analysis to detect statistical differences between groups and conditions. The custom scripts we used at the workshop are freely available through the Zenodo repository.
Our recent research, revealing significant differences in how the brains of physically trained and sedentary young adults process information from the heart, is now available for commentary and formal peer review in two preprint repositories: SJS (@social_sjs) and bioRxiv (@biorxivpreprint).
In two recent papers, published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine, and in Scientific Reports, we showed that young athletes perform better in a sustained attention task compared to their sedentary counterparts. Interestingly, the benefits of exercise on attention are observed only during the first 30 minutes of the 1-hour task. After that, there are no differences in the performance of the two groups. We observe that during this enhanced attention period, athletes also exhibit significantly different EEG and heart period event-related potentials (ERPs). This novel finding points towards a previously unrecognised brain-heart interaction in the mediation of cognitive benefits induced by physical exercise. These interesting results on the role of regular exercise on attention have also attracted the attention of Spanish popular science journals.