The purpose of the present study was to examine the effect of different levels of exercise intensity on mental rotation performance in gymnasts versus nongymnasts. A group of elite gymnasts and a group of nongymnasts performed a mental body rotation task at rest and then performed the same task preceded by short bouts of intense exercise at 60%, 80%, 100%, and 120% of their maximum aerobic speed. The analyses of response times showed that gymnasts performed the mental rotation task faster after bouts of intense exercise than in rest condition, but nongymnasts performed equally in rest and after exercise. This finding highlights the specific physical expertise as a variable that can affect the influence of exercise on cognitive processing.

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