Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Child's obesity, cognitive function linked, study finds

Date:
April 1, 2014
Source:
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Summary:
Obese children are slower than healthy-weight children to recognize when they have made an error and correct it, research shows. The research is the first to show that weight status not only affects how quickly children react to stimuli but also impacts the level of activity that occurs in the cerebral cortex during action monitoring.

A University of Illinois study finds that obese children are slower than healthy-weight children to recognize when they have made an error and correct it. The research is the first to show that weight status not only affects how quickly children react to stimuli but also impacts the level of activity that occurs in the cerebral cortex during action monitoring.

"I like to explain action monitoring this way: when you're typing, you don't have to be looking at your keyboard or your screen to realize that you've made a keystroke error. That's because action monitoring is occurring in your brain's prefrontal cortex," said Charles Hillman, a U of I professor of kinesiology and faculty member in the U of I's Division of Nutritional Sciences.

As an executive control task that requires organizing, planning, and inhibiting, action monitoring requires people to be computational and conscious at all times as they process their behavior. Because these higher-order cognitive processes are needed for success in mathematics and reading, they are linked with success in school and positive life outcomes, he said.

"Imagine a child in a math class constantly checking to make sure she's carrying the digit over when she's adding. That's an example," he added.

In the study, the scientists measured the behavioral and neuroelectric responses of 74 preadolescent children, half of them obese, half at a healthy weight. Children were fitted with caps that recorded electroencephalographic activity and asked to participate in a task that presented left- or right-facing fish, predictably facing in either the same or the opposite direction. Children were asked to press a button based on the direction of the middle (that is, target) fish. The flanking fish either pointed in the same direction (facilitating) or in the opposite direction (hindering) their ability to respond successfully.

"We found that obese children were considerably slower to respond to stimuli when they were involved in this activity," Hillman said.

The researchers also found that healthy-weight children were better at evaluating their need to change their behavior in order to avoid future errors.

"The healthy-weight kids were more accurate following an error than the obese children were, and when the task required greater amounts of executive control, the difference was even greater," he reported.

A second evaluation measured electrical activity in the brain "that occurs at the intersection of thought and action," Hillman said. "We can measure what we call error-related negativity (ERN) in the electrical pattern that the brain generates following errors. When children made an error, we could see a larger negative response. And we found that healthy-weight children are better able to upregulate the neuroelectric processes that underlie error evaluation."

Scientists in the Hillman lab and elsewhere have seen a connection between healthy weight and academic achievement, "but a study like this helps us understand what's happening. There are certainly physiological differences in the brain activity of obese and healthy-weight children. It's exciting to be able to use functional brain imaging to see the way children's weight affects the aspects of cognition that influence and underlie achievement," said postdoctoral researcher and co-author Naiman Khan.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The original article was written by Phyllis Picklesimer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. Kamijo, M. B. Pontifex, N. A. Khan, L. B. Raine, M. R. Scudder, E. S. Drollette, E. M. Evans, D. M. Castelli, C. H. Hillman. The Negative Association of Childhood Obesity to Cognitive Control of Action Monitoring. Cerebral Cortex, 2012; 24 (3): 654 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhs349

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Child's obesity, cognitive function linked, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401131135.htm>.
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. (2014, April 1). Child's obesity, cognitive function linked, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401131135.htm
University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. "Child's obesity, cognitive function linked, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140401131135.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Predicting Heart Transplant Rejection With a Blood Test

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Now a new approach to rejection of donor organs could change the way doctors predict transplant rejection…without expensive, invasive procedures. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Better Braces That Vibrate

Better Braces That Vibrate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) The length of time you have to keep your braces on could be cut in half thanks to a new device that speeds up the process. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Smartphone App Tracks Your Heart Rate

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A new app that can track your heart rate 24/7 is available for download in your app store and its convenience could save your life. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stroke in Young Adults

Stroke in Young Adults

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) A stroke can happen at any time and affect anyone regardless of age. This mother chose to give her son independence and continue to live a normal life after he had a stroke at 18 years old. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins