A placebo-controlled study at the University of Kent revealed that brain stimulation is effective in improving endurance in cyclists. It is expected that the findings of the study would help improve our understanding of the function of brain in endurance physical activities and how it can enhance the physical limits of an athlete. The findings are also anticipated to add more evidence on the discussion of the use of ethical ways to enhance performance in sports competitions.
Dr. Lex Mauger and his team at Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise Sciences (SSES) performed a study to investigate how endurance limits are related to mind and body.
The study included 12 active participants, whose cycling time to task failure (TTF) were analysed. The study indicated that stimulating the brain by passing a mild electrical current (transcranial direct current stimulation [tDCS]) over the scalp to stimulate it, enhanced the activity of the brain region that is known to be linked with muscle contraction. This led to reduced perception of required effort and at the same time, increased the time of cycling by participants.
The study team suggested that this happened because the subjects felt comparatively less effort after stimulation. While tDCS has previously been employed to boost endurance performances, the exact mechanism was unclear prior to this study.