Effects of an Exhaustive Exercise on Motor Skill Learning and on the Excitability of Primary Motor Cortex and Supplementary Motor Area

Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Mar;95(11):e2978. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000002978.


We examined, on 28 healthy adult subjects, the possible correlations of an exhaustive exercise, and the consequent high blood lactate levels, on immediate (explicit) and delayed (implicit) motor execution of sequential finger movements (cognitive task). Moreover, we determined with transcranial magnetic stimulation whether changes in motor performance are associated with variations in excitability of primary motor area (M1) and supplementary motor area (SMA). We observed that, after an acute exhaustive exercise, the large increase of blood lactate is associated with a significant worsening of both explicit and implicit sequential visuomotor task paradigms, without gender differences. We also found that, at the end of the exhaustive exercise, there is a change of excitability in both M1 and SMA. In particular, the excitability of M1 was increased whereas that of SMA decreased and, also in this case, without gender differences. These results support the idea that an increase of blood lactate after an exhaustive exercise appears to have a protective effect at level of primary cortical areas (as M1), although at the expense of efficiency of adjacent cortical regions (as SMA).

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex* / metabolism
  • Motor Cortex* / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Protective Factors
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods


  • Lactic Acid