Affective Modulation after High-Intensity Exercise Is Associated with Prolonged Amygdalar-Insular Functional Connectivity Increase

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Acute moderate exercise has been shown to induce prolonged changes in functional connectivity (FC) within affect and reward networks. The influence of different exercise intensities on FC has not yet been explored. Twenty-five male athletes underwent 30 min of “low”- (35% < lactate threshold (LT)) and “high”- (20% > LT) intensity exercise bouts on a treadmill. Resting-state fMRI was acquired at 3 Tesla before and after exercise, together with the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS). Data of 22 subjects (3 dropouts) were analyzed using the FSL feat pipeline and a seed-to-network-based analysis with the bilateral amygdala as the seed region for determining associated FC changes in the “emotional brain.” Data were analyzed using a repeated measures ANOVA. Comparisons between pre- and post-exercise were analyzed using a one-sample t-test, and a paired t-test was used for the comparison between “low” and “high” exercise conditions (nonparametric randomization approach, results reported at p < 0:05). Both exercise interventions induced significant increases in the PANAS positive affect scale. There was a significant interaction effect of amygdalar FC to the right anterior insula, and this amygdalar-insular FC correlated significantly with the PANAS positive affect scale (r = 0:47, p = 0:048) in the “high”-intensity exercise condition. Our findings suggest that mood changes after exercise are associated with prolonged alterations in amygdalar-insular FC and occur in an exercise intensity-dependent manner
Original languageEnglish
Article number7905387
JournalNeural plasticity
Pages (from-to)7905387
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 25.03.2020

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Copyright © 2020 Angelika Schmitt et al.

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