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9 December 2019

What is the impact of hydration status and exercise on cognitive performance?

We caught up with University of Ulster researcher, Kyle Wallace, to find out why he chose CANTAB to investigate the links between cognitive function, hydration status and martial arts. 

Can you tell us more about your university?    

Ulster University is one of the largest universities in Northern Ireland with over 27000 students. By conducting world-leading research, the university has secured a ranking in the top 25% of UK universities for research excellence. For over 14 years, CANTAB has supported researchers at the university in their internationally recognised work.

What are your current research projects?

Our current research examines the effect of hydration status and cognitive performance in martial artists. Hydration status is known to impact on exercise performance; however little research has been conducted on the impact of hydration status on cognitive function in sport in general. Here we are focusing on the impact for three forms of marital arts: Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo.

What does the study involve?

Our testing protocol requires participants to perform a 90-minute intense martial arts session. Hydration status is measured pre- and post- exercise, and cognition is assessed post-exercise with CANTAB tasks. Specifically, the three cognitive domains that are highly influential in martial arts: reaction time, executive function and spatial working memory.

We have collected data on over 60 participants at present with some interesting results. However we have more data to collect over the next few months. 

Why did you choose CANTAB for your research?

One of the main reasons we chose CANTAB was its portability. The CANTAB system is extremely convenient to use and easy to administer with testing sessions in remote locations. This is important for our study as data collection takes place in sports clubs and leisure centres.

Another advantage of CANTAB is that the app is user-friendly for participants. There is little need for intervention from administrators as the instructions on the app are clear and precise.

The reliability, validity and sensitivity of the tasks for assessing specific cognitive functions made choosing CANTAB an easy choice.

Can you tell us about your experience of the support and training services?

The support from Cambridge Cognition has been fantastic. We had some teething problems in our current project in terms of log in and download of data. These issues were resolved quickly and professionally by the Cambridge Cognition staff through telephone and email.

Tags : cantab testimonial | cognitive testing | cantab | cognition

Author portrait

Dr Pamela Magee, Mr Kyle Wallace, and Dr Liz Simpson - Ulster University