Alterations in spontaneous electrical brain activity after an extreme mountain ultramarathon

Biol Psychol. 2022 May:171:108348. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2022.108348. Epub 2022 May 13.


This study aimed to investigate the impact of an extreme mountain ultramarathon (MUM) on spontaneous electrical brain activity in a group of 16 finishers. By using 4-minute high-density electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings with eyes closed before and after a 330-km race (mean duration: 125 ± 17 h; sleep duration: 7.7 ± 2.9 h), spectral power, source localization and microstate analyses were conducted. After the race, power analyses revealed a centrally localized increase in power in the delta (0.5-3.5 Hz) and theta (4.0-7.5 Hz) frequency bands and a decrease in alpha (8.0-12.0 Hz) power at the parieto-occipital sites. Higher brain activation in the alpha frequency band was observed within the left posterior cingulate cortex, left angular gyrus and visual association areas. Microstate analyses indicated a significant decrease in map C predominance and an increase in the global field power (GFP) for map D at the end of the race. These changes in power patterns and microstate parameters contrast with previously reported findings following short bouts of endurance exercises. We discuss the potential factors that explain lower alpha activity within the parieto-occipital regions and microstate changes after MUMs. In conclusion, high-density EEG resting-state analyses can be recommended to investigate brain adaptations in extreme sporting activities.

Keywords: Electroencephalography; Power analysis, Ultra-endurance; Resting states; Topographic analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Eye
  • Humans
  • Parietal Lobe