Saturday, June 06, 2015

Physical Exercise Effects on Brain EEG

Bill Yates
Brain Posts
Posted 17th March

There are a variety of methods to study the effects on exercise on brain function.

Brain imaging techniques such as fMRI provides a new tool to search for regional effects of acute and chronic exercise.

Another tool that has received less attention is the electroencephalogram or EEG. One EEG measure of brain function is the individual alpha peak frequency or iAPF.

The iAPF is positively correlated with arousal, attention and speed of information processing. Higher iAPF is linked to faster speed of information processing.

Boris Gutmann and colleagues from the German Sport University Cologne recently published a study of the effects on acute and chronic exercise on iAPF.

Here are the key elements in the design of their study:
  • Subjects: Ten males average age 22 who were regular participants in exercise but not highly trained endurance athletes
  • Exercise: Time1- iAPF before and after exhaustive exercise and before and after steady state. Time2-iAPF before and after exhaustive exercise and before and after steady state. Time 1 and Time 2 exercise sessions were separated by four weeks that included steady state aerobic exercise training
The key findings from the study were:
  • iAPF was increased after exhaustive exercise but not following steady state exercise
  • This effect occurred both at time 1 and time 2 suggesting it was independent of training

The authors note the arousal effect of exhaustive exercise may be "mediatede by changes in neural activity in the reticular-activating system".

I found it interesting that the effects of iAPF was limited to exhaustive exercise. In the exhaustive exercise protocol, subjects rode stationary bikes controlled by the researchers for intensity. Subjects started at 30 watts increased by 5 watts every 30 seconds until subjects reached exhaustion. The steady state exercise protocol was exercise on the bicycle for 30 minutes at 65-75% of maximal heart rate.

There appears to be some increasing research interest in the value of shorter periods of exhaustive exercise like that seen in interval training protocols. Increasing evidence supports the value of brief high intensity periods of exercise in promoting health benefits of exercise.

Using EEG markers may be helpful in examining the potential value of exercise in a variety of brain disorders, i.e. traumatic brain injury, attention deficit disorder, mood and anxiety disorders.

Readers with more interest in this study can access the free full-text manuscript by clicking on the PMID link below.

Photo of Captiva, FL sunset is from the author's files.

Follow the author on Twitter: @WRY999

Gutmann B, Mierau A, Hülsdünker T, Hildebrand C, Przyklenk A, Hollmann W, & Strüder HK (2015). Effects of physical exercise on individual resting state EEG alpha peak frequency. Neural plasticity, 2015 PMID: 25759762.

See the original article:

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