Passive exercise increases cerebral blood flow velocity and supports a postexercise executive function benefit.
Shirzad M., Tari B., Dalton C., Van Riesen J., Marsala MJ., Heath M.
Executive function entails high-level cognitive control supporting activities of daily living. Literature has shown that a single-bout of exercise involving volitional muscle activation (i.e., active exercise) improves executive function and that an increase in cerebral blood flow (CBF) may contribute to this benefit. It is, however, unknown whether non-volitional exercise (i.e., passive exercise) wherein an individual's limbs are moved via an external force elicits a similar executive function benefit. This is a salient question given that proprioceptive and feedforward drive from passive exercise increases CBF independent of the metabolic demands of active exercise. Here, in a procedural validation participants (n = 2) used a cycle ergometer to complete separate 20-min active and passive (via mechanically driven flywheel) exercise conditions and a non-exercise control condition. Electromyography showed that passive exercise did not increase agonist muscle activation or increase ventilation or gas exchange variables (i.e., V̇O2 and V̇CO2 ). In a main experiment participants (n = 28) completed the same exercise and control conditions and transcranial Doppler ultrasound showed that active and passive exercise (but not the control condition) increased CBF through the middle cerebral artery (ps