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Sebastian Ludyga, Thomas Gronwald and Kuno Hottenrott

Although men and women are suggested to vary in resistance to fatigue, possible sex difference in its central component have rarely been investigated via electroencephalography (EEG). Therefore, we examined differences in cortical activity between male and female cyclists (n = 26) during cycling exercise. Participants performed an incremental test to derive the anaerobic threshold from the lactate power curve. In addition, cyclists’ cortical activity was recorded with EEG before and during cycling exercise. Whereas women showed higher frontal alpha and beta activity at rest, no sex-specific differences of relative EEG spectral power occurred during cycling at higher intensity. Women and men’s brains respond similarly during submaximal cycling, as both sexes show an inverted U-shaped curve of alpha power. Therefore, sex differences observable at rest vanish after the onset of exercise.

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Serge Brand, Markus Gerber, Flora Colledge, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, Uwe Pühse and Sebastian Ludyga

While there is evidence that acute bouts of aerobic and coordinative exercise positively affect attention and executive functions, no study has focused on the impact of acute exercise on facial-emotion processing. A total of 106 adolescents (mean age 13.0 years) were randomly assigned to a group performing either an aerobic exercise session (AER), an aerobic exercise session with coordinative demands (AER+C), or stretching. Before and after the 35-min experimental session, participants completed computerized facial-emotion labeling and emotion-matching tasks. Facial-emotion labeling, but not emotion matching, increased over time, but more so in AER and AER+C conditions. When aerobic exercise is combined with coordinative demands, greater benefits seem to be elicited for some aspects of facial-emotion recognition. Results suggest a new direction for the influence of exercising on dimensions of psychological functioning, namely on emotion processing and social cognition.

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Markus Gerber, Simon Best, Fabienne Meerstetter, Sandrine Isoard-Gautheur, Henrik Gustafsson, Renzo Bianchi, Daniel J. Madigan, Flora Colledge, Sebastian Ludyga, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler and Serge Brand

Few studies have examined the association between sleep and burnout symptoms in elite athletes. We recruited 257 young elite athletes (M age = 16.8 years) from Swiss Olympic partner schools. Of these, 197 were reassessed 6 months later. Based on the first assessment, 24 participants with clinically relevant burnout symptoms volunteered to participate in a polysomnographic examination and were compared with 26 (matched) healthy controls. Between 12% and 14% of young elite athletes reported burnout symptoms of potential clinical relevance, whereas 4–11% reported clinically relevant insomnia symptoms. Athletes with clinically relevant burnout symptoms reported significantly more insomnia symptoms, more dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions, and spent less time in bed during weeknights (p < .05). However, no significant differences were found for objective sleep parameters. A cross-lagged panel analysis showed that burnout positively predicted self-reported insomnia symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral interventions to treat dysfunctional sleep-related cognitions might be a promising measure to reduce subjective sleep complaints among young elite athletes.