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Brain Stimulation May Improve Athletic Performance

Brain Stimulation May Improve Athletic Performance

European researchers have discovered that electrical brain stimulation can improve endurance and enhance athletic performance.

Investigators at the University of Kent believe their findings will help to advance the understanding of the brain’s role in endurance exercise.

In specific, the research will help scientists learn the way in which electrical stimulation can alter the physical limits of performance (endurance) in healthy people.

Investigators believe the study will enhance further debate on the use of legal methods to enhance performance in competition.

In the research, 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.

Using a placebo controlled study, researchers tested cycling time to task failure (TTF) in a group of 12 active participants. In other words, how long an someone cycle given a standard resistance until failure.

In the trial, 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 endurance performance but how it achieved this was previously unknown and this study has helped identify the mechanisms.

The study, “Bilateral extracephalic transcranial direct current stimulation improves endurance performance in healthy individuals,” appears in the journal Brain Stimulation.

Source: University of Kent/Eurekalert

Brain Stimulation May Improve Athletic Performance

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Brain Stimulation May Improve Athletic Performance. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 13 Oct 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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