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Brain Res Bull. 2010 Jan 15;81(1):149-56. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2009.10.014.

Resting state cortical rhythms in athletes: a high-resolution EEG study.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy.


The present electroencephalographic (EEG) study tested the working hypothesis that the amplitude of resting state cortical EEG rhythms (especially alpha, 8-12 Hz) was higher in elite athletes compared with amateur athletes and non-athletes, as a reflection of the efficiency of underlying back-ground neural synchronization mechanisms. Eyes closed resting state EEG data were recorded in 16 elite karate athletes, 20 amateur karate athletes, and 25 non-athletes. The EEG rhythms of interest were delta (2-4 Hz), theta (4-8 Hz), alpha 1 (8-10.5 Hz), alpha 2 (10.5-13 Hz), beta 1 (13-20 Hz), and beta 2 (20-30 Hz). EEG cortical sources were estimated by low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (LORETA). Statistical results showed that the amplitude of parietal and occipital alpha 1 sources was significantly higher in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes and karate amateur athletes. Similar results were observed in parietal and occipital delta sources as well as in occipital theta sources. Finally, a control confirmatory experiment showed that the amplitude of parietal and occipital delta and alpha 1 sources was stronger in 8 elite rhythmic gymnasts compared with 14 non-athletes. These results supported the hypothesis that cortical neural synchronization at the basis of eyes-closed resting state EEG rhythms is enhanced in elite athletes than in control subjects.

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