Preprint / Version 1

Cognitive-physical task interaction during self-paced cycling

A multiscale Granger Causality study


  • Chiara Avancini University of Granada
  • Daniele Marinazzo Ghent University, Department of Data Analysis, Faculty of Psychological and Educational Sciences
  • Daniel Sanabria University of Granada, Mind Brain and Behavior Research Center
  • Juan José Pérez-Díaz University of Granada, Department of Physical Education and Sports, Facultad de Ciencias del Deporte
  • José Antonio Salas-Montoro University of Granada, Department of Physical Education and Sports, Facultad de Ciencias del Deporte
  • Luis Fernando Ciria University of Granada, Mind Brain and Behavior Research Center



dual-task, cognition, cognitive load, top-down processing, exercise, stimulus-response conflict, cognitive-physical interaction


Studying cognitive-physical interactions in self-paced high-intensity physical exercise presents the challenge of accounting for potential dual-task effects. In fact, self-pacing is thought to rely on top-down cognitive processing which makes it more susceptible to cognitive-physical interactions. Hence, even in paradigms where the experimental manipulation concerns the intensity of the exercise (i.e. high intensity versus low intensity) rather than its presence (i.e. exercise versus resting), performing the physical task might be more cognitively demanding in the higher intensity exercise condition. Here, we investigate the temporal dynamics of cognitive-physical interactions during dual-tasking by applying time-domain Granger Causality to data that combined indoor self-paced cycling and a cognitive task. Moreover, we investigate whether greater experience in self-pacing during cycling would reduce the need for exerting top-down control and therefore dual-task effects. We show that while cognitive and physical performance can interact in some individuals, better physical performance was not detrimental to cognitive performance in the expert cyclists group. We therefore propose that in self-paced physical exercise cognitive-physical interactions in expert cyclists are overall not confounded by dual-tasks interaction effects, although such interaction cannot be excluded for every single participant.


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