Changes in cortical activity measured with EEG during a high-intensity cycling exercise

J Neurophysiol. 2016 Jan 1;115(1):379-88. doi: 10.1152/jn.00497.2015. Epub 2015 Nov 4.


This study investigated the effects of a high-intensity cycling exercise on changes in spectral and temporal aspects of electroencephalography (EEG) measured from 10 experienced cyclists. Cyclists performed a maximum aerobic power test on the first testing day followed by a time-to-exhaustion trial at 85% of their maximum power output on 2 subsequent days that were separated by ∼48 h. EEG was recorded using a 64-channel system at 500 Hz. Independent component (IC) analysis parsed the EEG scalp data into maximal ICs. An equivalent current dipole model was calculated for each IC, and results were clustered across subjects. A time-frequency analysis of the identified electrocortical clusters was performed to investigate the magnitude and timing of event-related spectral perturbations. Significant changes (P < 0.05) in electrocortical activity were found in frontal, supplementary motor and parietal areas of the cortex. Overall, there was a significant increase in EEG power as fatigue developed throughout the exercise. The strongest increase was found in the frontal area of the cortex. The timing of event-related desynchronization within the supplementary motor area corresponds with the onset of force production and the transition from flexion to extension in the pedaling cycle. The results indicate an involvement of the cerebral cortex during the pedaling task that most likely involves executive control function, as well as motor planning and execution.

Keywords: electroencephalography; fatigue; locomotion; motor control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bicycling / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Exercise*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult