What's the latest research on using tACS while you're exercising?
We are living in a world that is ultracompetitive in professional sports where victory is determined in fraction of seconds and distance. The difference in the potential of two elite athletes differ in fractions of percentages. This is a reason why athletes take ergogenic aids (any kind of aid/ substance that increases their potential and performance levels). Frequently used ergogenic aid includes hypoxic training and multivitamin supplements. Recently, the use of transcranial electric current stimulation to enhance athleticism has gained great importance in academic study.
It has been proposed that the use of tDCS may enhance mental and physical performance in sports. For example, it has been researched that tDCS could reduce the reflex times to auditory, visual and touch stimuli. It has been shown to reduce tremor and enhance complex motor skills and motor learning in athletes.
There are two ways through which brain stimulation could possibly improve mental and physical performance in sports.
Using tDCS before performance which reduces mental and muscle stress levels and resultantly increases focus for a quicker action.
Using tDCS during performance that would help the athletes to learn motor skills in a better way.
Therefore, it is also very important to note that under what conditions and circumstances the tDCS is being utilized.
Cycling Time to Task Failure Test:
An experiment comprising of 12 recreationally “active” participants was carried out (including 8 men and 4 women, aged between 18 to 44). The participants were randomly given cathodal, anodal and sham stimulations. Meanwhile, they were instructed to avoid alcohol, depressants or any strenuous exercise. Both before and after tDCS, partic
ipants’ neuromuscular abilities/ performances were assessed in cycling sessions. It was observed that participants that received anodal stimulation biked longer than those who received sham or cathodal stimulations. The researchers suggested that the better performance might be the result of higher excitability of motor cortex leading to a decrement in effort and increment in endurance.
tDCS has been used to enhance endurance performance but how it achieved this was previously unk
nown and this study has helped identify the mechanisms. It was discovered that stimulating the brain using transcranial direct current stimulation, over the scalp, to stimulate it, increased the activity of the area affiliated with the contraction of muscles. This decreased perception of effort and increased the length of time participants could cycle for. The team explained that this is because the exercise felt less effortful following stimulation.
The studies demonstrate that tDCS with the anode over both motor cortices using a bilateral extracephalic reference improves endurance performance. In addition, tDCS can enhance motor learning thereby increasing the benefit of practice and promoting better performance.
ostimulation device, called Halo sport that leverages tDCS technology is becoming famous among Olympic, MLB and NLF athletes etc. The device looks like headphones and promises strength, speed, skill and endurance enhancement. The procedure is that you turn the system on for 20 or more minutes, and shortly after that, you are primed neurologically for enhanced learning and performance. The company is the first to offer it commercially to athletes.
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