PHYSIOLOGICAL STRESS RESILIENCE: OPTIMIZING COGNITIVE PERFORMANCE IN RESERVED OFFICERS TRAINING CORPS DURING EXERCISE
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Understanding the etiology of psychological and physiological stress resilience is imperative to human performance optimization. Previous studies examining how physiological systems interact with cognitive performance are not only quite limited, but have routinely examined performance immediately following exercise, the present study was designed to simultaneously and systematically examine the relationship between cognitive performance, specifically executive function, and high-intensity exercise in 15 ROTC cadets. Linear mixed modeling and Tukey’s multiple comparison tests were conducted to evaluate significant differences in mean scores at varying levels of exercise intensity. Results indicated that both absolute and relative levels of exercise intensity are highly predictive of changes in both executive function scores and degree of cerebral oxygenation. Specifically, decrements in cognition begin to occur at intensities higher than 70% of HRR. This study is an important first step in identifying key factors and associated mechanisms indicative of positive adaptation to physiological stress (i.e., exercise), enabling the identification of potential targets for training or the modification of protocols to optimize performance in high risk occupations.
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