Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation of motor cortex enhances running performance

Seung Bo Park, Dong Jun Sung, Bokyung Kim, So Jung Kim, Joung Kyue Han

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23 Scopus citations


Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a technique used to modulate neuronal excitability through non-invasive brain stimulation that can enhance exercise performance. We hypothesize that tDCS would improve submaximal running time to exhaustion (TTE) and delay the increase in the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) over time. We also hypothesize that tDCS would not lead to difference in cardiorespiratory responses. We employed a randomized, single-blinded, and counterbalanced design in which 10 trained men participated. After receiving either 20 min of 1.98 mA anodal tDCS applied over the primary motor cortex (M1) or sham-operated control on separate days, participants completed a constant-load test involving running at a speed equivalent to 80% of their own maximum oxygen consumption (VO 2 max). During this constant-load test, RPE, heart rate (HR), VO 2 , pulmonary ventilation (VE), respiratory exchange ratio (RER), and ventilatory threshold (VT) were continuously monitored. TTE was recorded at the end of the test. TTEs were significantly longer in the tDCS than in the sham conditions (21.18 ± 7.13 min; 18.44 ± 6.32 min; p = 0.011). For TTE, no significant differences were found in RPE between conditions at isotime. In addition, no significant differences in HR, VO 2 , VE, RER, and VT were found during TTE between the two stimulation conditions at any time point. These results indicate that the application of tDCS does not induce a change of the exercise performance-related index; however, it can affect the increase of the exercise duration due to the stimuli in the M1 area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0211902
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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