Alvin Kao

Research Interests

The primary goal of Dr. Kao’s research is to better understand the influence of health behavior and its associated physiological correlates on cognition and brain health. He is particularly interested in the acute and chronic effects of physical activity on behavioral and neuroelectric outcomes related to cognitive function during childhood and early adulthood. His research focuses include (1) the association of different aspects of physical fitness (e.g. cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular fitness) with higher-order cognition such as executive function and memory, (2) the role of exercise parameters (e.g. mode, intensity, timing) on the relationship between exercise and cognitive function, (3) the development of physical activity interventions that can be implemented and integrated into real-world settings (e.g. school, workplace) for facilitating attention, learning, work productivity, and brain health. Research activities in Dr. Kao’s lab involve evaluating oxygen consumption using a metabolic cart under different task demands (e.g. graded exercise testing, rest), assessing neuroelectrical brain signals by electroencephalogram (EEG) during cognitive tasks, measurement of demographic characteristics, and conducting acute and chronic exercise interventions aimed at improving cognitive and physical health. 


Postdoctoral Research Associate (2017-2018) Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA

Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Community Health (2013-2017) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL

M.Ed. in Physical Education (2008-2011) National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

B.Ed. in Physical Education (2004-2008) National Kaohsiung Normal University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

PhD Position(s) available

Selected Journal Publications

 *For a complete list of publications authored by Dr. Kao, please go to:

Chaddock-Heyman, L., Weng, T. B., Kienzler, C., Erickson, K. I., Voss, M. W., Drollette, E. S., Raine, L. B., Kao, S. C., Hillman, C. H., Kramer, A. F. (2018) Scholastic performance and functional connectivity of brain networks in children. PloS one, 13(1), e0190073. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 2.806; Ranking: 15/64 (23.43%) in Multidisciplinary Sciences category]

Raine, L. B., Kao, S. C., Pindus, D., Westfall, D. R., Shigeta, T. T., Logan, N., Li, J., Sanchez, C., Drollette, E. S., Pontifex, M. B., Khan, N., Kramer, A., Hillman, C. H (2018). A Largescale Reanalysis of Childhood Fitness and the Flanker P3-ERP. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement,

Drollette, E. S., Pontifex, M. B., Raine, L. B., Scudder, M. R., Moore, R. D., Kao, S. C., Westfall, D. R., Wu, C. T., Kamijo, K., Castelli, D. M., Khan, N. A., Kramer, A. F., & Hillman, C. H. (2018). Effects of the FITKids physical activity randomized controlled trial on conflict monitoring in youth. Psychophysiology, 55(3), [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 2.668; Ranking: 4/14 (28.57%) in Psychology & Biological category]

Kao, S. C., Westfall, D. R., Soneson, J., Gurd, B. J., & Hillman, C. H. (2017). Comparison of the acute effects of high-intensity interval training and continuous aerobic walking on inhibitory control. Psychophysiology, 54(9), 1335-1345. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 2.668; Ranking: 4/14 (28.57%) in Psychology & Biological category]

Kao, S. C., Drollette, E. S., Scudder, M. R., Raine, L. B., Daniel, R. W., Pontifex, N. B., & Hillman, C. H. (2017). Aerobic fitness is associated with cognitive control strategy in preadolescent children. Journal of Motor Behavior, 49(2), 150-162. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 1.327; Ranking: 53/81 (65.43%) in Sport Sciences category]

Kao, S. C., Westfall, D. R., Parks, A. C., Pontifex, M. B., & Hillman, C. H. (2017). Muscular and aerobic fitness, working memory, and academic achievement in children. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 49(3), 500-508. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 4.141; Ranking: 6/81 (7.40%) in Sport Sciences category]

Westfall, R. W., Kao, S. C., Scudder, M. R., Pontifex, M. B., & Hillman, C. H. (2017). The association between aerobic fitness and congruency sequence effects in preadolescent children. Brain and Cognition, 113, 85-92. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 2.432; Ranking: 31/84 (36.90%) in Psychology & Experimental category]

Luque-Casado, A., Perakakis, P., Hillman, C. H., Kao, S. C., Llorens, F., Guerra, P., & Sanabria, D. (2016). Differences in sustained attention capacity as a function of aerobic fitness. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 48(5), 887-895. [JCR 2016: Impact Factor: 4.141; Ranking: 6/81 (7.40%) in Sport Sciences category]

Hillman, C. H., Khan, N. A., & Kao, S. C. (2015). The Relationship of Health Behaviors to Childhood Cognition and Brain Health. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism66(Suppl. 3), 1-4. [JCR 2015: Impact Factor: 2.461; Ranking: 37/80 (46.25%) in Nutrition & Dietetics category]

Kao, S. C., Huang, C. J., & Hung, T. M. (2014). Neurofeedback training reduces frontal midline theta and improves putting performance in expert golfers. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 26(3), 271-286. [JCR 2014: Impact Factor: 1.062; Ranking: 19/43 (44.18%) in Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism category]

Kao, S. C., Huang, C. J., & Hung, T. M. (2013). Frontal midline theta is a specific indicator of optimal attentional engagement during skilled putting performance. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 35(5), 470-478. [JCR 2013: Impact Factor: 2.593; Ranking: 3/39 (7.69%) in Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism category]

Kao Photo

Assistant Professor

Lambert, Room 201B
Phone: (765) 494-7095
Fax: (765) 496-1239

 Physical Activity & Neurocognitive Health Lab

Health & Kinesiology, 800 W. Stadium Ave., West Lafayette, IN 47907, PH:(765) 494-3170, Fax: (765) 496-1239

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