There has been research examining the cognitive functioning of COPD patients. This research has typically indicated that COPD individuals experience declines in a number of cognitive functions, such as reaction time, memory, abstract reasoning skills, and complex visual-motor processes, relative to normal adults. However, while many of these authors looked at the relationship between arterial oxygenation (as assessed with Pa02) and cognitive performance in these COPD samples, none of these studies looked at the role that aerobic fitness may play in this relationship.
There is one series of studies in which the relationship between aerobic fitness and cognition in a COPD sample was examined. In the first of these studies, there was not a significant relationship between exercise level attained and any of the cognitive variables once education had been controlled. The sample used in this study was then combined with individuals from the Nocturnal Oxygen Therapy Trial, and a regression analysis was conducted to examine the predictive ability of exercise level on cognitive factors. The results indicated that exercise level was a significant predictor only for the cognitive factor simple motor, which included a tapping task and grip strength. However, the results of these studies must be interpreted with caution because sufficient detail regarding the fitness test was not provided for interpretation of the results. so
Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to investigate the relationship between age, pulmonary function, aerobic capacity, and cognitive performance in a sample of COPD patients. It is hypothesized that there will be a negative relationship between age and cognitive performance, while there will be a positive relationship between aerobic fitness and cognitive performance and between measures of pulmonary function and cognitive performance.