Research Topic

Physical Activity ‘Enrichment’: A Joint Focus on Motor Competence, Hot and Cool Executive Functions

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The relationship between physical activity and cognition has been extensively explored in recent years with an exponential growth of publications. This increased interest has led to multiple systematic reviews, which often highlight inconsistent results and a call for high-quality studies dealing with the ...

The relationship between physical activity and cognition has been extensively explored in recent years with an exponential growth of publications. This increased interest has led to multiple systematic reviews, which often highlight inconsistent results and a call for high-quality studies dealing with the relationship between specific aspects of physical activity and resulting cognitive outcomes, supported by an in-depth analysis of the underlying mechanisms. As recently suggested, skill acquisition might be presented as a parsimonious mechanism that may partially account for the cognitive benefits resulting from mentally engaging movement-based exercise.

From a different perspective, the acquisition and development of skill competence in the motor domain is gaining increasing attention from motor developmentalists since the publication of seminal work on the predictive role of motor competence for positive trajectories of health development. Research in this area is flourishing, getting broader and moving toward a holistic view in regards to the role of motor competence for physical, mental and social-emotional health. Research on the development of motor competence bridges a recent line of exercise and cognition research, which is shifting the focus from the `right dose' of physical activity to the cognitive and emotional challenges involved in physical activities that require skill acquisition.

Last, but not least, developmental neuroscientists and psychologists primarily interested in studying what promotes the development of high-level cognitive functions and particularly executive function, converge on the relevance of physical activity. Physical activity needs not only to be studied from a metabolic point of view, it must be analyzed within a physical, cognitive and emotional framework, as these aspects build the heterogeneous scaffold that are the basis of mindful physical activities and sports effects.

In light of these intriguing developments, this Research Topic offers the opportunity to contribute high-quality multi-disciplinary research, reviews or theoretical notes that may broaden our understanding of how physical activity and motor competence are linked to cognition and emotion.

We believe this is the appropriate time to introduce, in this area of research, the integration of the view on 'cool' executive functions with the view on 'hot' executive functions. Cool Executive functions are mostly studied in research addressing the relation between exercise and cognition and between motor and cognitive development. Hot Executive functions call into play the emotional dimensions of self-control and self-regulation relevant to physical activity behaviors and the acquisition of motor skill competence.

This Research Topic provides an optimal venue to bring together contributions of sport and exercise (neuro)scientists, motor developmentalists, and applied psychologists. We welcome contributions relevant to the interconnectedness of physical activity and motor competence with their associated cognitive and socio-emotional determinants, correlates, or outcomes. These may include, but are not limited to, hot and cool executive functions, and mediating mechanisms relevant to basic and applied research.


Keywords: exercise, skill, motor development, cognition, emotion


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