J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Aug 10;
Persons with an objective cognitive impairment (OCI) are at increased risk for progression to Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The present pilot project sought to examine whether participation in a long-term exercise program involving a cognitive-motor (CM) dual-task gait training component and an aerobic exercise training component improves executive function in persons with an OCI. To accomplish our objective, individuals with an OCI (n = 12) as determined by a Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) score of less than 26 and older adults (n = 11) deemed to be cognitively healthy (i.e., control group: MoCA score ≥26) completed a six-month moderate-to-high intensity (65-85% maximum heart rate) treadmill-based CM and aerobic exercise training program wherein pre- and post-intervention executive control was examined via the antisaccade task. Notably, antisaccades require a goal-directed eye-movement mirror-symmetrical to a target and represent an ideal tool for the study of executive deficits because of its hands- and language-free nature. As well, the cortical networks mediating antisaccades represent regions associated with neuropathology in cognitive decline and dementia (e.g., dorsolateral prefrontal cortex). Results showed that antisaccade reaction times for the OCI group reliably decreased by 30 ms from pre- to post-intervention, whereas the control group did not produce a reliable pre- to post-intervention change in reaction time (i.e., 6 ms). Thus, we propose that in persons with OCI long-term CM and aerobic training improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the executive mechanisms mediating high-level oculomotor control.