Asymmetry of Cerebral Hemodynamic Response to Incremental Cycling Exercise

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Exercise is known to result in hemodynamic changes in the bilateral prefrontal cortex. The aim of this study was to investigate hemodynamic changes in right and left hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during incremental cycling exercise.


After 10 min rest, 9 participants (mean age 26.6 ± 2.5 y, mass 77.5 ± 9.7 kg, stature 1.79 ± 0.9 m) cycled at 100–150 W for 4 min. Thereafter, resistance was increased by 25 W every 4 min until exhaustion (EXH). Respiratory exchange and concentrations of oxy- ([HbO2]), deoxy- ([(HHb]), and total hemoglobin ([Hbtot]) in the PFC were continuously measured. Data were averaged for 60 s at rest and preceding ventilatory threshold 1 (VT1), VT2, and volitional EXH and after 5 min recovery. Subjective ratings of affect were measured at VT1, VT2, VT1 minus 25 W (VT1-25W), and VT2 plus 25 W (VT2+25W).


There were no between-hemispheres differences in [HbO2] or [Hbtot] at rest, VT1, or recovery or in [HHb] at any point. Right-hemisphere [HbO2] and [Hbtot] were significantly greater than left at VT2 (P = .01 and P = .02) and EXH (P = .03 and P = .02). Affect was significantly greater at VT1-25W vs VT2 and VT2+25W and at VT1 and VT2 vs VT2+25W (P < .01–.03).


To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to describe an exercise-state-dependent change in PFC asymmetry during incremental exercise. The asymmetry detected coincided with a decrease in affect scores in agreement with the PFC-asymmetry hypothesis.

Stone is with the Centre for Human Performance, Exercise and Wellbeing, Bucks New University, Buckinghamshire, UK. St Clair Gibson is with the School of Medicine, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa. Thompson is with the Research Inst for Sport and Exercise, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Kevin Thompson at
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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