Using system factorial technology to study the effect of aerobic exercise on young adults’ attentional control
Previous studies have demonstrated the benefits of exercise for attentional control. However, the underlying processing mechanism remains unknown. Here, we investigated whether such exercise-induced cognitive benefits are associated with more efficient information processing. Forty-four participants participated in a 4-week aerobic exercise program. We employed System Factorial Technology (Townsend & Nozawa, 1995) and a redundant-target task to examine the changes in resilience capacity, a measure of the relative processing efficiency for two targets to that for a target with a distractor. Results revealed resilience capacity became smaller after exercise intervention although the RTs became faster. Further analysis revealed that the change in resilience capacity may be due to the violation of context invariance, which is in line with the selective improvement hypothesis (Colcombe & Kramer, 2003). These results shed light on the processing mechanism underlying exercise-induced changes in attentional control, and future studies should interpret the exercise effect with caution.