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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Jan;102(2):153-63. Epub 2007 Sep 20.

Prefrontal cortex oxygenation and neuromuscular responses to exhaustive exercise.

Author information

Faculty of Sport Sciences, EA 2991 Motor Efficiency and Deficiency Laboratory, UFR STAPS, 700 Avenue du Pic Saint Loup, 34090, Montpellier, France.

Erratum in

  • Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008 Jan;102(2):251. Thomas, Rupp [corrected to Rupp, Thomas]; Stephane, Perrey [corrected to Perrey, St├ęphane].


Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) allows non-invasive monitoring of central and peripheral changes in oxygenation during exercise and may provide valuable insight into the factors affecting fatigue. This study aimed to explore the changes in oxygenation of prefrontal cortex and active muscle tissue as limiting factors of incremental exercise performance in trained cyclists. Thirteen trained healthy subjects (mean +/- SE: age 24.9 +/- 1.5 years, body mass 70.1 +/- 1.2 kg, training 6.1 +/- 0.9 h week(-1)) performed a progressive maximal exercise to exhaustion on a cycling ergometer. Prefrontal cortex (Cox) and vastus lateralis muscle (Mox) oxygenation were measured simultaneously by NIRS throughout the exercise. Maximal voluntary isometric knee torques and quadriceps neuromuscular fatigue (M-wave properties and voluntary activation ratio) were evaluated before and after exercise. Maximal power output and oxygen consumption were 380.8 +/- 7.9 W and 75.0 +/- 2.2 ml min(-1) kg(-1), respectively. Mox decreased significantly throughout exercise while Cox increased in the first minutes of exercise but decreased markedly from the workload corresponding to the second ventilatory threshold up to exhaustion (P < 0.05). No significant difference was noted 6 min after maximal exercise in either the voluntary activation ratio or the M-wave properties. These findings are compatible with the notion that supraspinal modulation of motor output precedes exhaustion.

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