Electrophysiological effects of aerobic fitness
and maximal aerobic exercise were investigated by comparing
P300 and N400 before and after a maximal cycling test.
Event-related potentials (ERPs) were obtained from 20 students
divided into two matched groups defined by their aerobic
fitness level (cyclists vs. sedentary subjects). The session
of postexercise ERPs was performed immediately after body
temperature and heart rate returned to preexercise values.
At rest, no significant differences were observed in ERP
parameters between cyclists and sedentary subjects. This
finding argued against the hypothesis that ERP modifications
may be directly assumed by aerobic fitness level. The postexercise
session of ERPs showed a significant P300 amplitude increase
and a significant P300 latency decrease in all subjects.
Similarly, N400 effect increased significantly after the
maximal exercise in all subjects. ERP changes were of the
same magnitude in the two groups. The present study argues
for a general arousing effect of maximal aerobic exercise,
independently of the aerobic fitness level.