Brain Function after Strenuous Exercise

Published: Thursday 3 January 2013
A subject undergoing transcrainal magnetic stimulation whilst breathing hypoxic gas.

Recent research conducted here at Brunel University evaluating the central and peripheral mechanisms of fatigue has been published in the 1 June 2012 issue of the prestigious Journal of Physiology.

The question was asked whether the faster fatigue generally observed in humans in conditions of hypoxia or exposure to high altitude compared to sea-level is associated with fatigue of the brain. The research found that central fatigue was greater after exercise in hypoxia compared to exercise at sea-level. The greater amount of central fatigue in hypoxia was due to suboptimal neural drive from the brain to the exercising muscles and was associated with low levels of oxygen in the brain.

This research provides a plausible mechanism for why exercise performance is impaired at high altitude and in patients with reduced oxygen delivery to the brain.

Goodall S, González-Alonso J, Ali L, Ross EZ & Romer LM (2012). Supraspinal fatigue after normoxic and hypoxic exercise in humans. J Physiol 590, 2767-2782 (Download PDF)

Videos of this research in action are available on the Centre’s YouTube Channel.  



Page last updated: Tuesday 15 January 2013