The influence of knowledge of performance endpoint on pacing strategies, perception of effort, and neural activity during 30-km cycling time trials

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Abstract

It is understood that withholding information during exercise can alter performance during self-paced exercise, though less is known about neural activity during such exercise. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of withholding versus providing distance feedback on perception, muscular activation, and cerebral activity during cycling time trials (TT). Nine well-trained male cyclists randomly completed 2 x 30-km TT, with provision of performance information and distance feedback (known; KTT), and without performance information and remaining distance (unknown; UTT). Prefrontal cortex (PFC) hemoglobin concentration, electroencephalogy (EEG) responses of the parietal lobe (PL) and motor cortex (MC), and surface electromyogram (EMG) of the right thigh were monitored throughout the TTs, in addition to heart rate (HR), rating of perceived exertion (RPE), and power output (PO). Time to completion was shorter for the KTT compared to UTT (51.04 ± 3.26 vs. 49.25 ± 3.57 min, P = 0.01). There were no differences evident for RPE between conditions (P > 0.50). However, during the final 2 km, the KTT presented higher PO (P ≤ 0.05), HR (P = 0.03) and MC, and PL EEG activity (d = 0.51–0.71) in addition to increased tissue hemoglobin index (nTHI) and oxygen extraction (HHb) (d = 0.55-0.65) compared to the UTT. In conclusion, when withholding information pertaining to remaining distance, performance was reduced due to the application of a conservative pacing strategy. In addition, the increase in HHb across the PFC was strongly correlated with PO (r = 0.790; P < 0.001) suggesting knowledge about remaining distance may increase activation across the PFC. Further, it appears that changes within the PFC may play a role in the regulation of cycling performance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13892
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological Reports
Volume6
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018

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