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How muscle fatigue originates in the head
Date:12/5/2011

This press release is available in German.

The extent to which we are able to activate our muscles voluntarily depends on motivation and will power or the physical condition and level of fatigue of the muscles, for instance. The latter particularly leads to noticeable and measurable performance impairments. For a long time, the research on muscle fatigue was largely confined to changes in the muscle itself. Now, a joint research project between the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich has shifted the focus to brain research. Headed by neuro-psychologist Kai Lutz from the University of Zurich in collaboration with Urs Boutellier from the Institute of Human Movement Sciences and Sport at ETH Zurich, the researchers discovered neuronal processes for the first time that are responsible for reducing muscle activity during muscle-fatiguing exercise. The third and final part of this series of experiments, which was conducted by Lea Hilty as part of her doctoral thesis, has now been published in the European Journal of Neuroscience.

Muscle's nerve impulses inhibit motoric area in the brain

In the initial study, the researchers showed that nerve impulses from the muscle much like pain information inhibit the primary motoric area during a tiring, energy-demanding exercise. They were able to prove this using measurements in which study participants repeated thigh contractions until they could no longer attain the force required. If the same exercise was conducted under narcotization of the spinal chord (spinal anesthesia), thus interrupting the response from the muscle to the primary motoric area, the corresponding fatigue-related inhibition processes became significantly weaker than when the muscle information was intact.

In a second step, using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers were able to localize the brain
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Contact: Dr. Kai Lutz, Dep. of Psychology, Neuropsychology, UZH
Kai.Lutz@uzh.ch
41-446-357-395
University of Zurich
Source:Eurekalert  

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