Back to overview

Judo as adjunct therapy for children with ADHD: neurocognitive effects on executive function

English title Judo as adjunct therapy for children with ADHD: neurocognitive effects on executive function
Applicant Ludyga Sebastian
Number 188488
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Sport, Bewegung und Gesundheit Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Paediatrics
Start/End 01.12.2019 - 30.04.2022
Approved amount 115'322.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)


Keywords (4)

brain activity; physical activity; executive function; ADHD

Lay Summary (German)

Dr. Sebastian Ludyga
Lay summary
Kinder mit Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-/Hyperaktivitätsstörung (ADHS) zeigen eine Beeinträchtigung der höheren kognitiven Funktionen. Der aktuelle Forschungsstand zeigt, dass die medikamentöse Behandlung mit Psychostimulanzien diese Defizit verringert, aber die höheren kognitiven Funktionen nicht normalisiert. In der aktuellen Studie wird untersucht, ob ein Judotraining zusätzlich zur Therapie mit Psychostimulanzien das Verhalten und die kognitive Leistung von Kindern mit ADHS weiter verbessert. Dazu werden 56 Kinder mit ADHS, die eine Therapie mit Psychostimulanzien erhalten, zufällig auf eine Trainings- und eine Kontrollgruppe zugeteilt. Die Kontrollgruppe erhält weiterhin die Therapie, während die Trainingsgruppe zusätzlich 120 min Judotraining pro Woche über einen Zeitraum von 3 Monaten durchführt. Vor und nach dem Training werden höhere kognitive Funktionen mittels computergestützter Tests und verhaltensbedingte ADHS-Symptome mittels Fragebögen erfasst. Mögliche Veränderungen der kognitiven Leistung werden zudem neurophysiologisch mittels Elektroenzephalographie untersucht. Dadurch können mögliche Verbesserungen durch das Judotraining auf Veränderungen spezifischer neurokognitiver Prozesse zurückgeführt werden. Die Studie soll somit dazu beitragen, die Behandlung von ADHS weiter zu verbessern und die Wirkmechanismen sportlicher Aktivität (und speziell Judo) auf die kognitive Leistung bei Betroffenen besser zu verstehen.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.10.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
197076 The impact of physical activity on stress reactivity and stress-induced changes in executive control and cerebral oxygenation in school-aged children 01.03.2021 Project funding (Div. I-III)
200840 Entwicklung motorischer Basiskompetenzen in der Kindheit (EMOKK-Studie) - Bedeutung schulischer und ausserschulischer Aspekte 01.07.2021 Project funding (Div. I-III)


Background: Deficits in executive function (i.e. top-down mental processes for achieving internal goals) are considered to be at the core of academic underperformance and emotional as well as social problems in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Although pharmacological treatment with methylphenidate (MPH) reduces these deficits, it does not normalize the recipients in the long-term. Evidence, albeit limited, suggests that exercise may enhance the cognitive benefits of pharmacological treatment. Due to a unique combination of physical exertion, cognitive demands and promotion of discipline, martial arts particularly have the potential to be an effective additional component of ADHD therapy. However, possible benefits of martial arts have not yet been examined in children with ADHD.Purpose: The study aims to examine the effects of a 12-week judo training program on executive function and behavioral symptoms in children with ADHD. Possible benefits are investigated on a neurocognitive level to gain insights on the subtle processes that may contribute to exercise-induced enhancements within this cognitive domain. Additionally, the association between changes in neurophysiological indices of executive function and gains in motor skills as well as aerobic fitness are examined. Method: The study utilizes a randomized-controlled design, in which 56 children with ADHD are allocated to a martial arts group or a (wait-list) control group in a 1:1 ratio. Whereas the control group is encouraged to maintain their usual sports participation, a 12-week martial arts program with two 60-min sessions per week is prescribed to the martial arts group. Prior to and after the intervention period, computer-based versions of the Go/NoGo task and the Change Detection task are administered. Simultaneously, event-related brain potentials (ERP) related to inhibitory processing (P300 elicited from the Go/NoGo task) and working memory capacity (CDA elicited from the Change Detection task) are recorded via electroencephalography. Participants’ behavioral symptoms, aerobic fitness and motor skills are also measured at both measurement time points. Moreover, intelligence, pubertal status, socioeconomic status and general physical activity levels are assessed as potential confounders. Practical relevance: The findings are expected to reveal novel insights into the effects of judo on executive function in children with ADHD undergoing treatment with methylphenidate. In the long-term, these insights may be used to further develop and evaluate this specific exercise type as additional treatment component.