tDCS on cycling performance and pain

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The effect of tDCS applied to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on cycling performance and the modulation of exercise induced pain.

Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a neuromodulatory tool purported to enhance endurance performance through reducing fatigue related perceptions, including exercise-induced pain (EIP). We examined whether tDCS of the left DLPFC (1) can reduce EIP during a fixed intensity cycling trial (FI), (2) can improve cycling time trial (TT) performance, and (3) whether this was affected by a bilateral or an extracephalic montage. This investigation was comprised of two parts (study one and two). In both studies, participants completed a 10-minute FI trial and a 15-minute TT after 10 min of 2 mA anodal left DLPFC tDCS, SHAM or no stimulation. In study one, 11 participants received tDCS via a bilateral montage. In study two, 20 participants received tDCS using an extracephalic montage. Pain was recorded throughout the FI and TT trials, with power output (PO) monitored during the TT. Study one saw no significant changes in pain (tDCS 4.3 ± 2.0; SHAM 4.0 ± 1.8; control 3.8 ± 1.4) during the FI trial and no significant differences in distance covered, pain or PO in the TT. In study two there were no differences in pain reported in the FI trial, or distance covered (P = 0.239), pain or PO in the TT. In summary, tDCS of the DLPFC did not induce analgesia and provided no ergogenic effect for TT performance, moreover these observations were consistent across both the extracephalic and bilateral montage. These findings are in line with an increasing number of studies demonstrating the inconsistent effects of tDCS.

PMID: 33352276 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Neurosci Lett. 2020 Dec 19;:135584

Authors: Judge M, Hopker J, Mauger AR