Brain stimulation can improve athletic performance

October 12, 2017, University of Kent
Brain stimulation can improve athletic performance
Dr. Lex Mauger, University of Kent. Credit: University of Kent

Research by the University of Kent into the effects of brain stimulation on athletes' performance has demonstrated that it is an effective way to improve endurance.

The findings are expected to advance our understanding of the brain's role in , how it can alter the physical limits of in healthy people and add further evidence to the debate on the use of legal methods to enhance performance in competition.

The research, which was conducted by Dr Lex Mauger and colleagues at Kent's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences (SSES), set out to investigate how endurance limits are a matter for the mind as well as the body.

By testing cycling time to task failure (TTF) in a group of 12 active participants in a placebo controlled study, Dr Mauger discovered that stimulating the brain by passing a mild electrical current (transcranial direct current stimulation or tDCS) over the scalp to stimulate it increased the activity of the area associated with muscle contraction. This decreased perception of effort and increased the length of time participants could cycle for.

The team explained this is because the exercise felt less effortful following stimulation. tDCS has been used to enhance but how it achieved this was previously unknown and this study has helped identify the mechanisms.

Bilateral extracephalic transcranial direct current stimulation improves performance in healthy individuals (Dr Luca Angius, Dr Lex Mauger, Dr James Hopker, and Professor Samule Marcora, University of Kent, with Professor Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Berenson-Allen Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation, Division of Cognitive Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Dr Emiliano Santarnecch, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA) is published in the journal Brain Stimulation.

Explore further: Stimulating the brain makes exercising the legs feel easier

More information: L. Angius et al, Bilateral extracephalic transcranial direct current stimulation improves endurance performance in healthy individuals, Brain Stimulation (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2017.09.017

Related Stories

Stimulating the brain makes exercising the legs feel easier

November 1, 2016
Research led by the University of Kent shows stimulation of the brain impacts on endurance exercise performance by decreasing perception of effort.

Electrical stimulation of brain may help people with schizophrenia learn to communicate better

July 13, 2017
UCLA researchers have found that people with schizophrenia were able to more accurately determine whether two auditory tones matched or differed, after receiving a type of electrical brain stimulation. Being able to distinguish ...

Commercial brain stimulation device impairs memory

August 17, 2015
People show impaired memory after receiving low intensity electrical stimulation administered to the frontal part of the brain by a commercial, freely available, device. Psychologists Laura Steenbergen and Lorenza Colzato, ...

Transcranial direct current stimulation improves mental manipulation of body part imagery

June 13, 2017
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a method by which a very weak direct current is applied to the head of a subject for 10 to 20 minutes to induce changes in the activities of cranial nerves. It has recently ...

Baycrest launches study combining music and brain stimulation to improve memory

September 18, 2017
Baycrest will embark on the first study combining music therapy with brain stimulation to improve memory among patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).

Paracetamol improves exercise endurance in the heat

September 19, 2013
Paracetamol has a significant effect on exercise performance and the body's ability to cope with the thermal challenge of exercise in the heat, shows a study published today [20 September] in Experimental Physiology.

Recommended for you

New neurons in the adult brain are involved in sensory learning

February 23, 2018
Although we have known for several years that the adult brain can produce new neurons, many questions about the properties conferred by these adult-born neurons were left unanswered. What advantages could they offer that ...

Do you see what I see? Researchers harness brain waves to reconstruct images of what we perceive

February 22, 2018
A new technique developed by neuroscientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough can, for the first time, reconstruct images of what people perceive based on their brain activity gathered by EEG.

Neuroscientists discover a brain signal that indicates whether speech has been understood

February 22, 2018
Neuroscientists from Trinity College Dublin and the University of Rochester have identified a specific brain signal associated with the conversion of speech into understanding. The signal is present when the listener has ...

Study in mice suggests personalized stem cell treatment may offer relief for multiple sclerosis

February 22, 2018
Scientists have shown in mice that skin cells re-programmed into brain stem cells, transplanted into the central nervous system, help reduce inflammation and may be able to help repair damage caused by multiple sclerosis ...

Biomarker, clues to possible therapy found in novel childhood neurogenetic disease

February 22, 2018
Researchers studying a rare genetic disorder that causes severe, progressive neurological problems in childhood have discovered insights into biological mechanisms that drive the disease, along with early clues that an amino ...

A look at the space between mouse brain cells

February 22, 2018
Between the brain's neurons and glial cells is a critical but understudied structure that's been called neuroscience's final frontier: the extracellular space. With a new imaging paradigm, scientists can now see into and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.