The Role of Executive Function in the Self-Regulation of Endurance Performance: A Critical Review

Robert Hyland-Monks, Lorcan Cronin, Lars McNaughton, David Marchant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Research has outlined how self-regulation is crucial to the decision-making processes and pacing of endurance performance. There is evidence to suggest that executive function is implicated in self-regulatory processes, as the two are conceptually similar and share common brain regions such as the prefrontal cortex. This review draws upon various research domains to argue that executive function underlies the top-down self-regulation of endurance tasks. Indeed, executive functioning capacity may explain differences in endurance performances. Although contentious, there is evidence to suggest a hypofrontality effect during endurance exercise. Furthermore, research has highlighted that psychological interventions, the training of executive functions, and transcranial direct stimulation can induce prefrontal cortex changes and 'boost' executive functioning, ultimately enhancing the self-regulation of endurance performance. Future directions for research are proposed with the aim of stimulating investigations that will further elucidate the importance of executive functioning and self-regulation to endurance performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Brain Research. Sport and the Brain: The Science of Preparing, Enduring and Winning, Part C
EditorsSamuel Marcora, Mustafa Sarkar
ISBN (Print)9780444641878
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameSport and the Brain


  • endurance performance
  • exercise
  • executive function
  • self-regulation
  • prefrontal cortex


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