This study evaluates a possible involvement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and serotonergic (5-HT) system in psychiatric and electroencephalography (EEG) changes during and after pedaling exercise (PE). The subjects performed PE for 15 min using a cycle ergometer. PE rate was kept at 60 rpm, and the work load (93+/-5.4 W) was decided for each subject before the experiment based on a Rating of Perceived Exertion of 12-13 for self-selected exercise intensity. Cerebral oxygenation in the PFC was assessed by concentration changes in oxygenated hemoglobin (oxyHb) using 24-channel near-infrared spectroscopy. We found that PE evoked a significant increase in oxyHb levels in the ventral PFC during PE as compared with that in the dorsal PFC. Subjects had a feeling of reduced negative mood accompanied by a tendency of increased vigor-activity after PE, as assessed by the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. Because the ventral PFC is associated with mood state, we hypothesized that the observed mood changes may have been induced by the activation of the ventral PFC. As for EEG changes during and after PE, we found a significant increase in the relative powers of high-frequency alpha bands (10-13 Hz) during and after PE. A significant increase in whole blood 5-HT level was obtained after PE. Because cortical attenuation would be caused by the 5-HT-induced inhibition of the basal forebrain, we hypothesized that the observed EEG changes are linked with the increased blood 5-HT level or an augmentation of the 5-HT system in the brainstem.
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