Primary motor cortex activity is elevated with incremental exercise intensity

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While the effects of exercise on brain cortical activity from pre-to post-exercise have been thoroughly evaluated, few studies have investigated the change in activity during exercise. As such, it is not clear to what extent changes in exercise intensity influence brain cortical activity. Furthermore, due to the difficulty in using brain-imaging methods during complex whole-body movements like cycling, it is unclear to what extent the activity in specific brain areas is altered with incremental exercise intensity over time. Latterly, active electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes combined with source localization methods allow for the assessment of brain activity, measured as EEG current density, within specific cortical regions. The present study aimed to investigate the application of this method during exercise on a cycle ergometer, and to investigate the effect of increasing exercise intensity on the magnitude and location of any changes in electrocortical current density. Subjects performed an incremental cycle ergometer test until subjective exhaustion. Current density of the EEG recordings during each test stage, as well as before and after exercise, was determined. Spatial changes in current density were localized using low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA) to three regions of interest; the primary motor cortex, primary sensory cortex and prefrontal cortex, and were expressed relative to current density within the local lobe. It was demonstrated that the relative current density of the primary motor cortex was intensified with increasing exercise intensity, whereas activity of the primary sensory cortex and that of the prefrontal cortex were not altered with exercise. The results indicate that the combined active EEG/LORETA method allows for the recording of brain cortical activity during complex movements and incremental exercise. These findings indicate that primary motor cortex activity is elevated with incremental exercise intensity during a whole-body movement, like cycling.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNeuroscience letters
Volume181
Pages (from-to)150-162
Number of pages13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 05.05.2011

ID: 38911

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