Impact of obesity on central processing time rather than overall reaction time in young adult men
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.
KeywordsCentral 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
- EMG RT
Electromyographic analysis of 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
Multivariate analysis of covariance
Skeletal muscle mass
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.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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