Time‐course of neuromuscular responses to acute hypoxia during voluntary contractions

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McKeown, Daniel J
McNeil, Chris J
Simmonds, Michael J
Kavanagh, Justin J
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Few studies have examined the time course of changes in the motor system following acute exposure to hypoxia. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine how acute hypoxia affects corticospinal excitability, voluntary activation (VA), and perception of fatigue during brief (3 s) and sustained (20 s) maximal voluntary contractions (MVCs). Fourteen healthy individuals (23 ± 2.2 yr; 4 female) were exposed to a hypoxia and a sham condition. During hypoxia, peripheral blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) was titrated over a 15 min period and remained at 80% during testing. Corticospinal excitability and VA were assessed before titration (Pre), 0 hr, 1 hr, and 2 hr after. At each time point, the brief and sustained elbow flexion MVCs were performed. Motor evoked potentials (MEP) were obtained using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), superimposed and resting twitches were obtained from motor point stimulation of biceps brachii to calculate level of VA, and ratings of perceived fatigue were obtained with a modified CR‐10 Borg scale. A condition by time interaction was detected for the CR‐10 Borg scale, where perception of fatigue progressively increased throughout the hypoxia protocol. However, main effects of MEP area and VA indicated that corticospinal excitability increased, and VA of the biceps brachii decreased, across the hypoxia protocol. Given that these changes in MEP area and VA were only seen when performing the brief MVCs (and not during the sustained MVCs), performing longer contractions may overcome reduced oxygen content by redirecting blood flow to active areas of the motor system.

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Experimental Physiology

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© 2020 The Physiological Society. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Time‐course of neuromuscular responses to acute hypoxia during voluntary contractions, Experimental Physiology, 2020, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1113/EP088887. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving (http://olabout.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-828039.html)

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McKeown, DJ; McNeil, CJ; Simmonds, MJ; Kavanagh, JJ, Time‐course of neuromuscular responses to acute hypoxia during voluntary contractions, Experimental Physiology