Impact of obesity on central processing time rather than overall reaction time in young adult men

  • Mohammad NarimaniEmail author
  • Samad Esmaeilzadeh
  • Arto J. Pesola
  • Liane B. Azevedo
  • Akbar Moradi
  • Behrouz Heidari
  • Malahat Kashfi-Moghadam
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Males and Eating and Weight disorders


Background and purpose

The association between weight status with simple cognitive tasks such as reaction time (RT) may not be observed in young people as cognitive functioning development has reached its peak. In the present study, we aimed to examine the association between overall and central adiposity with overall and central processing of RT in a sample of young adult men with different weight status from Ardabil, Iran.


Eighty-six young males between June-July 2018 completed RT tests as well as premotor time (PMT) using surface electromyography changes in isometric contraction response to an audio stimulus.


No significant associations were observed between RT and PMT and different body mass index categories (underweight, normal weight, overweight and obese), as well as fat mass and fat to skeletal muscle mass ratio quartiles (Q). However, participants with greater waist to height ratio (WHtR) had longer PMT (but not RT) than their peers with lower WHtR (Q3 than Q2 and Q1 groups; p < 0.05, d = 1.23). Participants in the skeletal muscle mass quartile Q2 tended to have longer RT than participants in Q3 in an adjusted comparison model (p = 0.05, d = 0.72).


Although the association between weight status and RT might be elusive in young adults, our results show that higher central adiposity is negatively associated with PMT in young adults. Longitudinal studies are needed to explore the changes in obesity indexes and process speed in longer terms.

Level of evidence

Level I, experimental study.


Central obesity Muscle mass Premotor time Reaction time Underweight Young adult males 



BECK depression inventory-II


Bio-electrical impedance analysis


Body mass index


Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Battery




Electromyographic analysis of RT


Five-choice RT




Long form international physical activity questionnaire


Mean RT in initiation of 3 s contractions


Mean RT in termination of 3 s contractions


Mean RT in initiation of 6 s contractions


Mean RT in termination of 6 s contractions


Motor time


Multivariate analysis of covariance


Premotor time


Reaction time


Simple RT


Skeletal muscle mass


Socioeconomic status


Two-choice RT


Waist to height ratio



No funding was received for performing the present study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the Human Ethics Committee of University of Mohaghegh Ardabili and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mohammad Narimani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Samad Esmaeilzadeh
    • 2
  • Arto J. Pesola
    • 3
  • Liane B. Azevedo
    • 4
  • Akbar Moradi
    • 5
  • Behrouz Heidari
    • 2
  • Malahat Kashfi-Moghadam
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran
  2. 2.University of Mohaghegh ArdabiliArdabilIran
  3. 3.Active Life LabSouth-Eastern Finland University of Applied SciencesMikkeliFinland
  4. 4.School of Health and Social CareTeesside UniversityMiddlesbroughUK
  5. 5.Islamic Azad University Science and Research BranchTehranIran

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