Functional connectivity: A source of variance in the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognition?

Michelle W. Voss*, Kirk I. Erickson, Ruchika S. Prakash, Laura Chaddock, Edward Malkowski, Heloisa Alves, Jennifer S. Kim, Katherine S. Morris, Siobhan M. White, Thomas R. Wójcicki, Liang Hu, Amanda Szabo, Emily Klamm, Edward McAuley, Arthur F. Kramer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

211 Scopus citations


Over the next 20 years the number of Americans diagnosed with dementia is expected to more than double (CDC, 2007). It is, therefore, an important public health initiative to understand what factors contribute to the longevity of a healthy mind. Both default mode network (DMN) function and increased aerobic fitness have been associated with better cognitive performance and reduced incidence of Alzheimer's disease among older adults. Here we examine the association between aerobic fitness, functional connectivity in the DMN, and cognitive performance. Results showed significant age-related deficits in functional connectivity in both local and distributed DMN pathways. However, in a group of healthy elderly adults, almost half of the age-related disconnections showed increased functional connectivity as a function of aerobic fitness level. Finally, we examine the hypothesis that functional connectivity in the DMN is one source of variance in the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognition. Results demonstrate instances of both specific and global DMN connectivity mediating the relationship between fitness and cognition. We provide the first evidence for functional connectivity as a source of variance in the association between aerobic fitness and cognition, and discuss results in the context of neurobiological theories of cognitive aging and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1406
Number of pages13
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Aerobic exercise
  • Cognitive aging
  • Executive function
  • FMRI
  • Functional connectivity
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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