The Effect of Prolonged Exercise on Brain Activity Mood an Effort

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INTRODUCTION Long duration exercise has been linked with the psychological model of Flow. Flow describes a mental state, during which a person is fully immersed in the process of an action. It is expected that the Flow experience is going along with specific changes in cortical activity, especially a transient hypofrontality which has recently been connected with an increase in cognitive performance post exercise. Nevertheless data on neuro-affective and neuro-cognitive effects during prolonged exercise are rare.
METHODS Within this study cognitive performance as well as mental state, flow experience and brain cortical activity were assessed several times before, during and after a six hour run in eleven ultra marathon runners (six female, five male).
RESULTS Results indicate a decrease of cortical activity (beta-activity) in the frontal cortex, whereas no changes could be obtained for global beta, nor frontal or global alpha-activity. Perceived physical relaxation and flow state increased significantly after one hour of running but decreased during the following five hours state. Perceived physical state and motivational state remained stable during the first hour of running but then decreased significantly. Cognitive performance as well as underlying neurophysiological events (recorded as event related potentials) remained stable across the six hours run. Except the fact that women reported significant higher levels of Flow no further gender effects were noticeable.
DISCUSSION Following the theory of a transient hypofrontality, a clear and significant decrease in frontal cortex activity was noticeable. Interestingly this had no effect on cognitive performance. The fact that self reported Flow experience increased just during the first hour of running followed by a dramatic decrease let us assume that changes in cortical activity and the experience of flow are not linked as previously supposed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Database of Sport Science EDSS : 20th annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, 24th-27th June, Malmö, Sweden
EditorsAage Radmann, Susanna Hedenborg, Elias K. Tsolakidis
Number of pages1
Publication date26.06.2015
ISBN (Print)978-91-7104-567-6
Publication statusPublished - 26.06.2015
Eventannual congress of the European College of Sport Science Sustainable Sport - Malmö, Sweden
Duration: 24.06.201527.06.2015
Conference number: 20

ID: 1885731

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