Stimulating the brain makes exercising the legs feel easier
Research led by the University of Kent shows stimulation of the brain impacts on endurance exercise performance by decreasing perception of effort.
The study examined the effect of a technique called transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS), a form of non-invasive brain stimulation, on the neuromuscular, physiological and perceptual responses to exhaustive leg exercise.
Researchers led by Dr Lex Mauger from Kent's School of Sport and Exercise Sciences found that tDCS delayed exhaustion of the leg muscles by an average of 15% during an exercise task, and that this was likely caused by the participants feeling less effort during the exercise. However, tDCS elicited no significant effect on the neuromuscular response to exercise.
The performance effects of tDCS only occurred when the tDCS electrodes used to deliver the electrical current were positioned in a particular way. This study therefore provides important methodological guidance for the application of tDCS and provides further evidence that brain stimulation can improve endurance exercise performance, although the authors warn against the uncontrolled use of tDCS.
'Transcranial direct current stimulation improves isometric time to exhaustion of the knee extensors' (A. R. Mauger, L. Agnius, J. Hopker, S. M.Marcora, all University of Kent and B.Pageaux, Universite de Bourgogne) is published in the journal Neuroscience.
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Note to editors
Established in 1965, the University of Kent – the UK's European university – now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked: 23rd in the Guardian University Guide 2016; 23rd in the Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016; and 22nd in the Complete University Guide 2015.
In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, Kent is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality.
In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities.
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The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.
In 2014, Kent received its second Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.