Research suggests that physical activity can be used as an intervention to increase cognitive function. Yet, there are competing views on the cognitive effects of physical activity and it is not clear what level of consensus exists among researchers in the field. The purpose of this study was two-fold: Firstly, to quantify the scientific consensus by focusing on the relationship between physical activity and cognitive function. Secondly, to investigate if there is a gap between the public’s and scientists’ interpretations of scientific texts on this topic. A two-phase study was performed by including 75 scientists in the first phase and 15 non-scientists in the second phase. Participants were asked to categorize article abstracts in terms of endorsement of the effect of physical activity on cognitive function. Results indicated that there was a 76.1% consensus that physical activity has positive cognitive effects. There was a consistent association between scientists’ and non-scientists’ categorizations, suggesting that both groups perceived abstracts in a similar fashion. Taken together, this study provides the first analysis of its kind to evaluate the level of consensus in almost two decades of research. The present data can be used to inform further research and practice.

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International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Department of Psychology

Nazlieva, N., Mavilidi, M., Baars, M., & Paas, F. (2019). Establishing a Scientific Consensus on the Cognitive Benefits of Physical Activity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Retrieved from