Induced mild systemic inflammation is associated with impaired ability to improve cognitive task performance by practice

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Elevated inflammatory levels are linked to poorer cognition, but experimental confirmation is lacking. This report examined associations between cognitive performance and inflammation induced by exercise and vaccination. Thirty‐six (exercise N = 18, vaccination N = 18) healthy males completed a paced auditory serial addition test (PASAT), which is a multifaceted measure of cognitive function. The task was completed in placebo and elevated inflammation states. Improvements in PASAT performance were related to inflammation. In the exercise study, IL‐6 during the first PASAT negatively correlated with PASAT improvement (p = .022). In the vaccination study, increases in C‐reactive protein between PASATs correlated with reduced PASAT improvement (p < .001). Inflammation was linked to reduced improvements in cognitive performance. Further research should identify the specific cognitive functions affects and the underlying mechanisms.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Early online date4 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Cognitive function, Inflammation, Vaccination, Eccentric exercise, PASAT