Research Study Abstract

Study protocol and rationale of the “Cogni-action project” a cross-sectional and randomized controlled trial about physical activity, brain health, cognition, and educational achievement in schoolchildren

  • Published on July 26, 2019

Education and health are crucial topics for public policies as both largely determine the future wellbeing of the society. Currently, several studies recognize that physical activity (PA) benefits brain health in children. However, most of these studies have not been carried out in developing countries or lack the transference into the education field. The Cogni-Action Project is divided into two stages, a cross-sectional study and a crossover-randomized trial. The aim of the first part is to establish the associations of PA, sedentarism, and physical fitness with brain structure and function, cognitive performance and academic achievement in Chilean schoolchildren (10–13 years-old). The aim of the second part is to determinate the acute effects of three PA protocols on neuroelectric indices during a working memory and a reading task.

PA and sedentarism will be self-reported and objectively-assessed with accelerometers in a representative subsample, whilst physical fitness will be evaluated through the ALPHA fitness test battery. Brain structure and function will be assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a randomized subsample. Cognitive performance will be assessed through the NeuroCognitive Performance Test, and academic achievement by school grades. In the second part 32 adolescents (12–13 year-old) will be cross-over randomized to these condition (i) “Moderate-Intensity Continuous Training” (MICT), (ii) “Cooperative High-Intensity Interval Training” (C-HIIT), and (iii) Sedentary condition. Neuroelectric indices will be measures by electroencephalogram (EEG) and eye-tracking, working memory by n-back task and reading comprehension by a reading task.

The main strength of this project is that, to our knowledge, this is the first study analysing the potential association of PA, sedentarism, and physical fitness on brain structure and function, cognitive performance, and academic achievement in a developing country, which presents an important sociocultural gap. For this purpose, this project will use advanced technologies in neuroimaging (MRI), electrophysiology (EEG), and eye-tracking, as well as objective and quality measurements of several physical and cognitive health outcomes.


  • Patricio Solis-Urra 1,2
  • Jorge Olivares-Arancibia 1,3,4
  • Ernesto Suarez-Cadenas 5
  • Javier Sanchez-Martinez 1
  • Fernando Rodríguez-Rodríguez 1
  • Francisco B. Ortega 2
  • Irene Esteban-Cornejo 2
  • Cristina Cadenas-Sanchez 2
  • Jose Castro-Piñero 6
  • Alejandro Veloz 7,8
  • Steren Chabert 7,8
  • Kabir P. Saradangani 9,10
  • Juan Pablo Zavala-Crichton 11,2
  • Jairo H. Migueles 2
  • Jose Mora-Gonzalez 2
  • Milton Quiroz-Escobar 12
  • Diego Almonte-Espinoza 12
  • Alfonso Urzúa 13
  • Constantino D. Dragicevic 1,14
  • Aland Astudillo 8
  • Eduardo Méndez-Gassibe 15
  • Daniel Riquelme-Uribe 16,17
  • Marcela Jarpa Azagra 18
  • Carlos Cristi-Montero 1


  • 1

    IRyS Research Group, School of Physical Education, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, Viña del Mar, Chile

  • 2

    Department of Physical and Sports Education, Faculty of Sport Sciences, PROFITH “PROmoting FITness and Health through physical activity” Research Group, Sport and Health University Research Institute (iMUDS), University of Granada, Granada, Spain

  • 3

    Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Sciences of Sport and Physical Education, University of A Coruña, A Coruña, Spain

  • 4

    Physical Education School, Universidad de Las Américas, Viña del Mar, Chile

  • 5

    Faculty of Sport Science, Pablo de Olavide University, Seville, Spain

  • 6

    Departament of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, University of Cádiz, Puerto real, Spain

  • 7

    Biomedical Engineering Department, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

  • 8

    CINGS, Centro de Investigación en Ingeniería para la Salud, Universidad de Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile

  • 9

    School of Kinesiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Universidad San Sebastián, Santiago, Chile

  • 10

    Escuela de Kinesiología, Facultad de Salud y Odontología, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile

  • 11

    Facultad de Educación y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Andrés Bello, Viña del Mar, Chile

  • 12

    Independent Imagenology Center Quintaimagen, Viña del Mar, Chile

  • 13

    School of Psychology, Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile

  • 14

    Auditory and Cognition Center, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile

  • 15

    Sports and Exercise Medicine Resident, Universidad Mayor, Santiago, Chile

  • 16

    Universidad Adventista de Chile, Chillan, Chile

  • 17

    Center for Research, Development and Innovation APLICAE, Santiago, Chile

  • 18

    School of Pedagogy, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, Valparaíso, Chile


BMC Pediatrics

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