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Cerebral Regulation in Different Maximal Aerobic Exercise Modes

Pires, Flávio O.; dos Anjos, Carlos A. S.; Covolan, Roberto J. M.; Pinheiro, Fabiano A.; St Clair Gibson, Alan; Noakes, Timothy D.; Magalhães, Fernando H.; Ugrinowitsch, Carlos


Flávio O. Pires

Carlos A. S. dos Anjos

Roberto J. M. Covolan

Fabiano A. Pinheiro

Timothy D. Noakes

Fernando H. Magalhães

Carlos Ugrinowitsch


We investigated cerebral responses, simultaneously with peripheral and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) responses, during different VO2MAX-matched aerobic exercise modes. Nine cyclists (VO2MAX of 57.5 ± 6.2 ml·kg−1·min−1) performed a maximal, controlled-pace incremental test (MIT) and a self-paced 4 km time trial (TT4km). Measures of cerebral (COX) and muscular (MOX) oxygenation were assessed throughout the exercises by changes in oxy- (O2Hb) and deoxy-hemoglobin (HHb) concentrations over the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and vastus lateralis (VL) muscle, respectively. Primary motor cortex (PMC) electroencephalography (EEG), VL, and rectus femoris EMG were also assessed throughout the trials, together with power output and cardiopulmonary responses. The RPE was obtained at regular intervals. Similar motor output (EMG and power output) occurred from 70% of the duration in MIT and TT4km, despite the greater motor output, muscle deoxygenation (↓ MOX) and cardiopulmonary responses in TT4km before that point. Regarding cerebral responses, there was a lower COX (↓ O2Hb concentrations in PFC) at 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60%, but greater at 100% of the TT4km duration when compared to MIT. The alpha wave EEG in PMC remained constant throughout the exercise modes, with greater values in TT4km. The RPE was maximal at the endpoint in both exercises, but it increased slower in TT4km than in MIT. Results showed that similar motor output and effort tolerance were attained at the closing stages of different VO2MAX-matched aerobic exercises, although the different disturbance until that point. Regardless of different COX responses during most of the exercises duration, activation in PMC was preserved throughout the exercises, suggesting that these responses may be part of a centrally-coordinated exercise regulation.


Pires, F. O., dos Anjos, C. A. S., Covolan, R. J. M., Pinheiro, F. A., St Clair Gibson, A., Noakes, T. D., …Ugrinowitsch, C. (in press). Cerebral Regulation in Different Maximal Aerobic Exercise Modes. Frontiers in Physiology, 7, Article 253.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 10, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 5, 2016
Deposit Date Jan 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 27, 2021
Journal Frontiers in Physiology
Publisher Frontiers Media
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Article Number 253
Keywords Near-infrared spectroscopy; Brain oxygenation; Exercise tolerance; Central fatigue; Peripheral muscle fatigue
Public URL
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Published article (3.3 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2016 Pires, dos Anjos, Covolan, Pinheiro, St Clair Gibson, Noakes, Magalhães and Ugrinowitsch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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