Special Issue "Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425). This special issue belongs to the section "Systems Neuroscience".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Stéphane Perrey
E-Mail Website1 Website2 Website3
Guest Editor
EuroMov Digital Health in Motion, Univ Montpellier, IMT Mines Ales, 34090 Montpellier, France
Interests: Human Neurophysiology; Functional Neuroimaging; Sensorimotor Functions; Exercise; Fatigue; Sports Sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The main goal of systems neuroscience is to understand how the brain controls behavior. With the advent of neuroimaging technologies and transcranial stimulation protocols, it has become possible to study the functional brain correlates of behavior and underlying cognitive and sensorimotor functions’ performance. Acute and chronic exercises are associated with changes in brain structure and function. Unfortunately, while neuroscience can allow us to go inside the brain and investigate the primal causes of behavior, there is still a lack of applying neuroscientific findings in the context of sports performance.

The purpose of this Special Issue is to collect articles that explore or discuss how brain functions evolve during and after exercise in healthy people when experienced multiple times throughout the week, over several months to many years. Original research studies using various experimental measures (e.g., transcranial stimulation, neuroimaging methods, electromyography and spinal reflexes), in various states (e.g., fatigued, nonfatigued, and resting) during different categories of sports (endurance, strength, sporting skills) or the most popular Olympic sports (running, cycling, rowing, tennis, fencing, etc.) are encouraged. Original research articles or brief, focused reviews are acceptable.

Prof. Dr. Stéphane Perrey
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Exercise
  • Transcranial stimulation
  • Fatigue
  • Neuroimaging
  • Training
  • Neural plasticity

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Exercise: A Gate That Primes the Brain to Perform
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(12), 980; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10120980 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 483
Abstract
The improvement of exercise performance encountered in sports not only represents the enhancement of physical strength but also includes the development of psychological and cognitive functions [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Multiple Sessions of Cathodal Priming and Anodal HD-tDCS on Visuo Motor Task Plateau Learning and Retention
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(11), 875; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10110875 - 19 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 436
Abstract
A single session of priming cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) prior to anodal tDCS (c-a-tDCS) allows cumulative effects on motor learning and retention. However, the impact of multiple sessions of c-a-tDCS priming on learning and retention remains unclear. Here, we tested whether [...] Read more.
A single session of priming cathodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) prior to anodal tDCS (c-a-tDCS) allows cumulative effects on motor learning and retention. However, the impact of multiple sessions of c-a-tDCS priming on learning and retention remains unclear. Here, we tested whether multiple sessions of c-a-tDCS (over 3 consecutive days) applied over the left sensorimotor cortex can further enhance motor learning and retention of an already learned visuo-motor task as compared to anodal tDCS (a-tDCS) or sham. In a between group and randomized double-blind sham-controlled study design, 25 participants separated in 3 independent groups underwent 2 days of baseline training without tDCS followed by 3-days of training with both online and offline tDCS, and two retention tests (1 and 14 days later). Each training block consisted of five trials of a 60 s circular-tracing task intersected by 60 s rest, and performance was assessed in terms of speed–accuracy trade-off represented notably by an index of performance (IP). The main findings of this exploratory study were that multiple sessions of c-a-tDCS significantly further enhanced IP above baseline training levels over the 3 training days that were maintained over the 2 retention days, but these learning and retention performance changes were not significantly different from the sham group. Subtle differences in the changes in speed–accuracy trade-off (components of IP) between c-a-tDCS (maintenance of accuracy over increasing speed) and a-tDCS (increasing speed over maintenance of accuracy) provide preliminary insights to a mechanistic modulation of motor performance with priming and polarity of tDCS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Shedding Light on the Effects of Moderate Acute Exercise on Working Memory Performance in Healthy Older Adults: An fNIRS Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(11), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10110813 - 03 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 889
Abstract
Numerous studies have reported the beneficial effects of acute exercise on executive functions. Less is known, however, about the effects of exercise on working memory as one subcomponent of executive functions and about its effects on older adults. We investigated the effects of [...] Read more.
Numerous studies have reported the beneficial effects of acute exercise on executive functions. Less is known, however, about the effects of exercise on working memory as one subcomponent of executive functions and about its effects on older adults. We investigated the effects of acute moderate-intensity exercise on working memory performance, the respective cortical hemodynamic activation patterns, and the development and persistence of such effects in healthy older adults. Forty-four participants (M: 69.18 years ± 3.92; 21 females) performed a letter 2-back task before and at three time points after (post 15 min, post 30 min, and post 45 min) either listening to an audiobook or exercising (15 min; 50% VO2-peak). Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was used to assess cortical hemodynamic activation and brain-behavior correlations in the fronto-parietal working memory network. Overall, we found no group differences for working memory performance. However, only within the experimental group, 2-back performance was enhanced 15 min and 45 min post-exercise. Furthermore, 15 min post-exercise frontal activation predicted working memory performance, regardless of group. In sum, our results indicate slight beneficial effects of acute moderate-intensity exercise on working memory performance in healthy older adults. Findings are discussed in light of the cognitive aging process and moderators affecting the exercise-cognition relationship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Acute Aerobic Exercise Combined with Resistance Exercise on Neurocognitive Performance in Obese Women
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(11), 767; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10110767 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 659
Abstract
To the best of the author’s knowledge, there have been no previous studies conducted on the effects of a combination of acute aerobic and resistance exercise on deficit of inhibitory control in obese individuals. The aim of this study was, thus, to examine [...] Read more.
To the best of the author’s knowledge, there have been no previous studies conducted on the effects of a combination of acute aerobic and resistance exercise on deficit of inhibitory control in obese individuals. The aim of this study was, thus, to examine the effect of a single bout of such an exercise mode on behavioral and cognitive electrophysiological performance involving cognitive interference inhibition in obese women. After the estimated VO2max and percentage fat (measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (Hologic, Bedford, MA, USA) were assessed, 32 sedentary obese female adults were randomly assigned to an exercise group (EG) and a control group (CG), with their behavioral performance being recorded with concomitant electrophysiological signals when performing a Stroop task. Then, the EG engaged in 30 min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise combined with resistance exercise, and the CG rested for a similar duration of time without engaging in any type of exercise. After the interventions, the neurocognitive performance was measured again in the two groups. The results revealed that although acute exercise did not enhance the behavioral indices (e.g., accuracy rates (ARs) and reaction times (RTs)), cognitive electrophysiological signals were improved (e.g., shorter N2 and P3 latencies, smaller N2 amplitudes, and greater P3 amplitudes) in the Stroop task after the exercise intervention in the EG. The findings indicated that a combination of acute moderate-intensity aerobic and resistance exercise may improve the neurophysiological inhibitory control performance of obese women. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessCommunication
Exercise Intensity May Not Moderate the Acute Effects of Functional Circuit Training on Cognitive Function: A Randomized Crossover Trial
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(10), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10100738 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 818
Abstract
Functional circuit training (FCT) has been demonstrated to acutely enhance cognitive performance (CP). However, the moderators of this observation are unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the role of exercise intensity. According to an a priori sample size calculation, n = 24 healthy [...] Read more.
Functional circuit training (FCT) has been demonstrated to acutely enhance cognitive performance (CP). However, the moderators of this observation are unknown. This study aimed to elucidate the role of exercise intensity. According to an a priori sample size calculation, n = 24 healthy participants (26 ± 3 years, 13 females), in randomized order, performed a single 15-min bout of FCT with low (20–39% of the heart rate reserve/HRR), moderate (40–59% HRR) or high intensity (maximal effort). Immediately pre- and post-workout, CP was measured by use of the Digit Span test, Stroop test and Trail Making test. Non-parametric data analyses did not reveal significant differences between conditions (p > 0.05) although parameter-free 95% confidence intervals showed pre-post improvements in some outcomes at moderate and high intensity only. The effort level does not seem to be a major effect modifier regarding short-term increases in CP following HCT in young active adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Free-Weight Resistance Exercise Is More Effective in Enhancing Inhibitory Control than Machine-Based Training: A Randomized, Controlled Trial
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(10), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10100702 - 03 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1711
Abstract
Resistance exercise has been demonstrated to improve brain function. However, the optimal workout characteristics are a matter of debate. This randomized, controlled trial aimed to elucidate differences between free-weight (REfree) and machine-based (REmach) training with regard to their ability [...] Read more.
Resistance exercise has been demonstrated to improve brain function. However, the optimal workout characteristics are a matter of debate. This randomized, controlled trial aimed to elucidate differences between free-weight (REfree) and machine-based (REmach) training with regard to their ability to acutely enhance cognitive performance (CP). A total of n = 46 healthy individuals (27 ± 4 years, 26 men) performed a 45-min bout of REfree (military press, barbell squat, bench press) or REmach (shoulder press, leg press, chest press). Pre- and post-intervention, CP was examined using the Stroop test, Trail Making Test and Digit Span test. Mann–Whitney U tests did not reveal between-group differences for performance in the Digit Span test, Trail Making test and the color and word conditions of the Stroop test (p > 0.05). However, REfree was superior to REmach in the Stroop color-word condition (+6.3%, p = 0.02, R = 0.35). Additionally, REfree elicited pre-post changes in all parameters except for the Digit Span test and the word condition of the Stroop test while REmach only improved cognitive performance in part A of the Trail Making test. Using free weights seems to be the more effective RE method to acutely improve cognitive function (i.e., inhibitory control). The mechanisms of this finding merit further investigation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Distinct Effects of Acute Aerobic Exercise on Declarative Memory and Procedural Memory Formation
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(10), 691; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10100691 - 30 Sep 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 741
Abstract
Objective: To investigate the different effects of acute aerobic exercise on the formation of long-term declarative memory (DM) and procedural memory (PM). Methods: Twenty-two young men completed DM and PM tasks under three experimental conditions: pre-acquisition exercise, post-acquisition exercise, and no exercise (control). [...] Read more.
Objective: To investigate the different effects of acute aerobic exercise on the formation of long-term declarative memory (DM) and procedural memory (PM). Methods: Twenty-two young men completed DM and PM tasks under three experimental conditions: pre-acquisition exercise, post-acquisition exercise, and no exercise (control). The DM task encompassed word learning, free recall tests both immediately and 1 h later, and a recognition test conducted 24 h after word learning. A serial reaction time task (SRTT) was utilized to assess exercise effects on PM. The SRTT included a sequence learning phase followed by sequence tests 1 h and 24 h later. The exercise program consisted of 30 min of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Results: In the DM task, compared to the control condition, pre-acquisition exercise, but not post-acquisition exercise, enhanced free recall performance significantly 1 h and 24 h later. The target word recognition rate and discriminative index (d′) of the recognition test were significantly enhanced in both exercise conditions compared to the control condition. In the PM task, we observed significantly reduced (improved) reaction times at the 24-h test in the post-acquisition exercise condition compared to in the control condition. Conclusion: Acute aerobic exercise may enhance long-term DM and PM via effects on different processing periods. For DM, exercise had a pronounced effect during the encoding period, whereas for PM, exercise was found to have an enhancing effect during the consolidation period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Various Doses of Caffeine Ingestion on Intermittent Exercise Performance and Cognition
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(9), 595; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10090595 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1248
Abstract
To date, no study has examined the effects of caffeine on prolonged intermittent exercise performance that imitates certain team-sports, and the suitable concentration of caffeine for improved intermittent exercise performance remains elusive. The purpose of the present cross-over, double-blind preliminary study was to [...] Read more.
To date, no study has examined the effects of caffeine on prolonged intermittent exercise performance that imitates certain team-sports, and the suitable concentration of caffeine for improved intermittent exercise performance remains elusive. The purpose of the present cross-over, double-blind preliminary study was to investigate effects of low, moderate, and high doses of caffeine ingestion on intermittent exercise performance and cognition. Ten males performed a familiarization session and four experimental trials. Participants ingested capsules of placebo or caffeine (3, 6, or 9 mg/kg) at 1 h before exercise, rested quietly, and then performed cycling for 2 × 30 min. The cycling protocol consisted of maximal power pedaling for 5 s (mass × 0.075 kp) every minute, separated by unloaded pedaling for 25 s and rest for 30 s. At pre-ingestion of capsules, 1 h post-ingestion, and post-exercise, participants completed the Stroop task. The mean power-output (MPO), peak power-output (PPO), and response time (RT) in the Stroop task were measured. Only 3 mg/kg of caffeine had positive effects on the mean PPO and MPO; 3 mg/kg caffeine decreased RTs significantly in the incongruent and congruent conditions. These results indicate that the ingestion of low-dose caffeine had greater positive effects on the participants’ physical strength during prolonged intermittent exercise and cognition than moderate- or high-dose caffeine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
On Your Mark, Get Set, Self-Control, Go: A Differentiated View on the Cortical Hemodynamics of Self-Control during Sprint Start
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(8), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10080494 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 717
Abstract
Most sports are self-control demanding. For example, during a sprint start, athletes have to respond as fast as possible to the start signal (action initiation) while suppressing the urge to start too early (action inhibition). Here, we examined the cortical hemodynamic response to [...] Read more.
Most sports are self-control demanding. For example, during a sprint start, athletes have to respond as fast as possible to the start signal (action initiation) while suppressing the urge to start too early (action inhibition). Here, we examined the cortical hemodynamic response to these demands by measuring activity in the two lateral prefrontal cortices (lPFC), a central area for self-control processes. We analyzed activity within subregions of the lPFC, while subjects performed a sprint start, and we assessed if activation varied as a function of hemisphere and gender. In a counterbalanced within-subject design, 39 participants (age: mean (M) = 22.44, standard deviation (SD) = 5.28, 22 women) completed four sprint start conditions (blocks). In each block, participants focused on inhibition (avoid false start), initiation (start fast), no start (do not start) and a combined condition (start fast; avoid false start). We show that oxyhemoglobin in the lPFC increased after the set signal and this increase did not differ between experimental conditions. Increased activation was primarily observed in ventral areas of the lPFC, but only in males, and this increase did not vary between hemispheres. This study provides further support for the involvement of the ventral lPFC during a sprint start, while highlighting gender differences in the processing of sprint start-induced self-control demands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Carbohydrate Mouth Rinse Mitigates Mental Fatigue Effects on Maximal Incremental Test Performance, but Not in Cortical Alterations
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(8), 493; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10080493 - 29 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 784
Abstract
Detrimental mental fatigue effects on exercise performance have been documented in constant workload and time trial exercises, but effects on a maximal incremental test (MIT) remain poorly investigated. Mental fatigue-reduced exercise performance is related to an increased effort sensation, likely due to a [...] Read more.
Detrimental mental fatigue effects on exercise performance have been documented in constant workload and time trial exercises, but effects on a maximal incremental test (MIT) remain poorly investigated. Mental fatigue-reduced exercise performance is related to an increased effort sensation, likely due to a reduced prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation and inhibited spontaneous behavior. Interestingly, only a few studies verified if centrally active compounds may mitigate such effects. For example, carbohydrate (CHO) mouth rinse potentiates exercise performance and reduces effort sensation, likely through its effects on PFC activation. However, it is unknown if this centrally mediated effect of CHO mouth rinse may mitigate mental fatigue-reduced exercise performance. After a proof-of-principle study, showing a mental fatigue-reduced MIT performance, we observed that CHO mouth rinse mitigated MIT performance reductions in mentally fatigued cyclists, regardless of PFC alterations. When compared to placebo, mentally fatigued cyclists improved MIT performance by 2.24–2.33% when rinsing their mouth with CHO during MIT. However, PFC and motor cortex activation during MIT in both CHO and placebo mouth rinses were greater than in mental fatigue. Results showed that CHO mouth rinse mitigated the mental fatigue-reduced MIT performance, but challenged the role of CHO mouth rinse on PFC and motor cortex activation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
“No Pain No Gain”: Evidence from a Parcel-Wise Brain Morphometry Study on the Volitional Quality of Elite Athletes
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(7), 459; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10070459 - 17 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1376
Abstract
Volition is described as a psychological construct with great emphasis on the sense of agency. During volitional behavior, an individual always presents a volitional quality, an intrapersonal trait for dealing with adverse circumstances, which determines the individual’s persistence of action toward their intentions [...] Read more.
Volition is described as a psychological construct with great emphasis on the sense of agency. During volitional behavior, an individual always presents a volitional quality, an intrapersonal trait for dealing with adverse circumstances, which determines the individual’s persistence of action toward their intentions or goals. Elite athletes are a group of experts with superior volitional quality and, thereby, could be regarded as the natural subject pool to investigate this mental trait. The purpose of this study was to examine brain morphometric characteristics associated with volitional quality by using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the Scale of Volitional Quality. We recruited 16 national-level athletes engaged in short track speed skating and 18 healthy controls matched with age and gender. A comparison of a parcel-wise brain anatomical characteristics of the healthy controls with those of the elite athletes revealed three regions with significantly increased cortical thickness in the athlete group. These regions included the left precuneus, the left inferior parietal lobe, and the right superior frontal lobe, which are the core brain regions involved in the sense of agency. The mean cortical thickness of the left inferior parietal lobe was significantly correlated with the independence of volitional quality (a mental trait that characterizes one’s intendency to control his/her own behavior and make decisions by applying internal standards and/or objective criteria). These findings suggest that sports training is an ideal model for better understanding the neural mechanisms of volitional behavior in the human brain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Behavioral and Cognitive Electrophysiological Differences in the Executive Functions of Taiwanese Basketball Players as a Function of Playing Position
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060387 - 19 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
The effect of the predominant playing position of elite basketball players on executive functions using both behavioral and electrophysiological measurements was investigated in the present study. Forty-six elite basketball players, including 27 guards and 19 forwards, were recruited. Event-related potential (ERP) signals were [...] Read more.
The effect of the predominant playing position of elite basketball players on executive functions using both behavioral and electrophysiological measurements was investigated in the present study. Forty-six elite basketball players, including 27 guards and 19 forwards, were recruited. Event-related potential (ERP) signals were simultaneously recorded when the athletes performed the visual Go/NoGo task. Analyses of the results revealed that the guards and forwards groups exhibited comparable behavioral (i.e., reaction time (RTs) and accuracy rates (ARs)) performance. With regards to the electrophysiological indices, the guards relative to the forwards exhibited a shorter N2 latency in the Go condition, a longer N2 latency in the NoGo condition, and a smaller P3 amplitude across the two conditions. These results suggested that although the guards and forwards exhibited similar abilities in terms of behavioral inhibition, different neural processing efficiencies still exist in the basketball playing positions, with guards showing divergent efficiencies in the target evaluation and response selection of the target and non-target stimuli and fewer cognitive resources during premotor preparation and decision-making as compared to the forwards. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Mini-Basketball Training Program on Executive Functions and Core Symptoms among Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(5), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10050263 - 30 Apr 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1481
Abstract
This study examined the effects of a 12-week mini-basketball training program (MBTP) on executive functions and core symptoms among preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this quasi-experimental pilot study, 33 ASD preschoolers who received their conventional rehabilitation program were assigned to either [...] Read more.
This study examined the effects of a 12-week mini-basketball training program (MBTP) on executive functions and core symptoms among preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In this quasi-experimental pilot study, 33 ASD preschoolers who received their conventional rehabilitation program were assigned to either a MBTP group (n = 18) or control group (n = 15). Specifically, the experimental group was required to take an additional 12-week MBTP (five days per week, one session per day, and forty minutes per session), while the control group was instructed to maintain their daily activities. Executive functions and core symptoms (social communication impairment and repetitive behavior) were evaluated by the Childhood Executive Functioning Inventory (CHEXI), the Social Responsiveness Scale-Second Edition (SRS-2), and the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R), respectively. After the 12-week intervention period, the MBTP group exhibited significantly better performances in working memory (F = 7.51, p < 0.01, partial η2 = 0.195) and regulation (F = 4.23, p < 0.05, partial η2 = 0.12) as compared to the control group. Moreover, the MBTP significantly improved core symptoms of ASD preschoolers, including the social communication impairment (F = 6.02, p < 0.05, partial η2 = 0.020) and repetitive behavior (F = 5.79, p < 0.05, partial η2 = 0.016). Based on our findings, we concluded that the 12-week MBTP may improve executive functions and core symptoms in preschoolers with ASD, and we provide new evidence that regular physical exercise in the form of a MBTP is a promising alternative to treat ASD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Acute Effects of High-Definition Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Foot Muscle Strength, Passive Ankle Kinesthesia, and Static Balance: A Pilot Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040246 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1403
Abstract
This study aimed to examine the effects of single-session anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on the strength of intrinsic foot muscles, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance. Methods: In this double-blinded self-controlled study, 14 healthy younger adults were asked to complete [...] Read more.
This study aimed to examine the effects of single-session anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation (HD-tDCS) on the strength of intrinsic foot muscles, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance. Methods: In this double-blinded self-controlled study, 14 healthy younger adults were asked to complete assessments of foot muscle strength, passive ankle kinesthesia, and static balance before and after a 20-minute session of either HD-tDCS or sham stimulation (i.e., control) at two visits separated by one week. Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance was used to examine the effects of HD-tDCS on metatarsophalangeal joint flexor strength, toe flexor strength, the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle joint, and the average sway velocity of the center of gravity. Results: All participants completed all study procedures and no side effects nor risk events were reported. Blinding was shown to be successful, with an overall accuracy of 35.7% in the guess of stimulation type (p = 0.347). No main effects of intervention, time, or their interaction were observed for foot muscle strength (p > 0.05). The average percent change in first-toe flexor strength following anodal HD-tDCS was 12.8 ± 24.2%, with 11 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength, while the change following sham stimulation was 0.7 ± 17.3%, with 8 out of 14 participants showing an increase in strength. A main effect of time on the passive kinesthesia threshold of ankle inversion, dorsiflexion, and anteroposterior and medial–lateral average sway velocity of the center of gravity in one-leg standing with eyes closed was observed; these outcomes were reduced from pre to post stimulation (p < 0.05). No significant differences were observed for other variables between the two stimulation types. Conclusion: The results of this pilot study suggested that single-session HD-tDCS may improve the flexor strength of the first toe, although no statistically significant differences were observed between the anodal HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. Additionally, passive ankle kinesthesia and static standing balance performance were improved from pre to post stimulation, but no significant differences were observed between the HD-tDCS and sham procedure groups. This may be potentially due to ceiling effects in this healthy cohort of a small sample size. Nevertheless, these preliminary findings may provide critical knowledge of optimal stimulation parameters, effect size, and power estimation of HD-tDCS for future trials aiming to confirm and expand the findings of this pilot study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Improves Maximum Isometric Force Production during Isometric Barbell Squats
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 235; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040235 - 14 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1528
Abstract
Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVC) is an important predictor of athletic performance as well as physical fitness throughout life. Many everyday life activities involve multi-joint or whole-body movements that are determined in part through optimized muscle strength. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has [...] Read more.
Maximum voluntary contraction force (MVC) is an important predictor of athletic performance as well as physical fitness throughout life. Many everyday life activities involve multi-joint or whole-body movements that are determined in part through optimized muscle strength. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) has been reported to enhance muscle strength parameters in single-joint movements after its application to motor cortical areas, although tDCS effects on maximum isometric voluntary contraction force (MIVC) in compound movements remain to be investigated. Here, we tested whether anodal tDCS and/or sham stimulation over primary motor cortex (M1) and cerebellum (CB) improves MIVC during isometric barbell squats (iBS). Our results provide novel evidence that CB stimulation enhances MIVC during iBS. Although this indicates that parameters relating to muscle strength can be modulated through anodal tDCS of the cerebellum, our results serve as an initial reference point and need to be extended. Therefore, further studies are necessary to expand knowledge in this area of research through the inclusion of different tDCS paradigms, for example investigating dynamic barbell squats, as well as testing other whole-body movements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of High Intensity Interval Training Compared to Continuous Training on Cognitive Performance in Young Healthy Adults: A Pilot Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020081 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2108
Abstract
To improve cognitive function, moving the body is strongly recommended; however, evidence regarding the proper training modality is still lacking. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess the effects of high intensity interval training (HIIT) compared to moderate intensity continuous exercise [...] Read more.
To improve cognitive function, moving the body is strongly recommended; however, evidence regarding the proper training modality is still lacking. The purpose of this study was therefore to assess the effects of high intensity interval training (HIIT) compared to moderate intensity continuous exercise (MICE), representing the same total training load, on improving cognitive function in healthy adults. It was hypothesized that after 6 weeks (3 days/week) of stationary bike training, HIIT would improve executive functions more than MICE. Twenty-five participants exercised three times a week for 6 weeks after randomization to the HIIT or MICE training groups. Target intensity was 60% of peak power output (PPO) in the MICE group and 100% PPO in the HIIT group. After training, PPO significantly increased in both the HIIT and MICE groups (9% and 15%, p < 0.01). HIIT was mainly associated with a greater improvement in overall reaction time in the executive components of the computerized Stroop task (980.43 ± 135.27 ms vs. 860.04 ± 75.63 ms, p < 0.01) and the trail making test (42.35 ± 14.86 s vs. 30.35 ± 4.13 s, p < 0.01). T exercise protocol was clearly an important factor in improving executive functions in young adults. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating Performance in a Strenuous Physical Task from the Perspective of Self-Control
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(11), 317; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9110317 - 09 Nov 2019
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1384
Abstract
It has been proposed that one reason physical effort is perceived as costly is because of the self-control demands that are necessary to persist in a physically demanding task. The application of control has been conceptualized as a value-based decision, that hinges on [...] Read more.
It has been proposed that one reason physical effort is perceived as costly is because of the self-control demands that are necessary to persist in a physically demanding task. The application of control has been conceptualized as a value-based decision, that hinges on an optimization of the costs of control and available reward. Here, we drew on labor supply theory to investigate the effects of an Income Compensated Wage Decrease (ICWD) on persistence in a strenuous physical task. Research has shown that an ICWD reduced the amount of self-control participants are willing to apply, and we expected this to translate to a performance decrement in a strenuous physical task. Contrary to our expectations, participants in the ICWD group outperformed the control group in terms of persistence, without incurring higher levels of muscle fatigue or ratings of perceived exertion. Improved performance was accompanied by increases in task efficiency and a lesser increase in oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex, an area of relevance for the application of self-control. These results suggest that the relationship between the regulation of physical effort and self-control is less straightforward than initially assumed: less top-down self-control might allow for more efficient execution of motor tasks, thereby allowing for improved performance. Moreover, these findings indicate that psychological manipulations can affect physical performance, not by modulating how much one is willing to deplete limited physical resources, but by altering how tasks are executed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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Open AccessPerspective
New Directions in Exercise Prescription: Is There a Role for Brain-Derived Parameters Obtained by Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy?
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060342 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1514
Abstract
In the literature, it is well established that regular physical exercise is a powerful strategy to promote brain health and to improve cognitive performance. However, exact knowledge about which exercise prescription would be optimal in the setting of exercise–cognition science is lacking. While [...] Read more.
In the literature, it is well established that regular physical exercise is a powerful strategy to promote brain health and to improve cognitive performance. However, exact knowledge about which exercise prescription would be optimal in the setting of exercise–cognition science is lacking. While there is a strong theoretical rationale for using indicators of internal load (e.g., heart rate) in exercise prescription, the most suitable parameters have yet to be determined. In this perspective article, we discuss the role of brain-derived parameters (e.g., brain activity) as valuable indicators of internal load which can be beneficial for individualizing the exercise prescription in exercise–cognition research. Therefore, we focus on the application of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), since this neuroimaging modality provides specific advantages, making it well suited for monitoring cortical hemodynamics as a proxy of brain activity during physical exercise. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying Brain Activity in Sports Performance)
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