What are the Acute Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Fractionated Response Time: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Razie J. Alibazi, Dawson Kidgell, Maryam Zoghi, Shapour Jaberzadeh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Recently, there have been several studies that have examined the acute effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive function. Importantly, one precise indicator of cognitive function is response time (RT), which has two main components; premotor time (PMT) and motor time (MT). PMT is the time for perception, decision making and response preparation, while MT is executing the response. Using fractionated response time (FRT) instead of RT provides a more precise estimate of the location of the effect of aerobic exercise on cognitive or motor components of the response. There is emerging evidence that shows an acute bout of exercise may improve FRT. Therefore, the purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to explore the acute effect of aerobic exercise on FRT by considering the effects of various cognitive function tests. Fourteen studies were included investigating FRT during and/or after aerobic exercise. The results indicated that during exercise, PMT increased in simple reaction time and decreased in flanker task; MT decreased in choice reaction time; interestingly, RT decreased when it was assessed by choice reaction time and flanker task, almost similar to PMT and MT. After exercise, PMT decreased specifically in flanker and go/no-go tasks. However, MT and RT did not change significantly. In conclusion, as changes in RT are affected by both PMT and MT, FRT provides a more precise estimate of the locus of the effects of aerobic exercise on response time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-112
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Science in Sport and Exercise
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Physical activity
  • Cognitive function
  • Response time
  • Premotor time

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