Prefrontal cortex oxygenation during endurance performance: A systematic review of functional near-infrared spectroscopy studies.

Journal article


De Wachter, Jonas, Proost, Matthias, Habay, Jelle, Verstraelen, Matthias, Díaz-García, Jesús, Hurst, Philip, Meeusen, Romain, Van Cutsem, Jeroen and Roelands, B. 2021. Prefrontal cortex oxygenation during endurance performance: A systematic review of functional near-infrared spectroscopy studies. Frontiers in Physiology. 12, p. 761232. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.761232
AuthorsDe Wachter, Jonas, Proost, Matthias, Habay, Jelle, Verstraelen, Matthias, Díaz-García, Jesús, Hurst, Philip, Meeusen, Romain, Van Cutsem, Jeroen and Roelands, B.
Abstract A myriad of factors underlie pacing-/exhaustion-decisions that are made during whole-body endurance performance. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is a brain region that is crucial for decision-making, planning, and attention. PFC oxygenation seems to be a mediating factor of performance decisions during endurance performance. Nowadays, there is no general overview summarizing the current knowledge on how PFC oxygenation evolves during whole-body endurance performance and whether this is a determining factor. Three electronic databases were searched for studies related to the assessment of PFC oxygenation, through near-IR spectroscopy (NIRS), during endurance exercise. To express PFC oxygenation, oxygenated (HbO ) and deoxygenated hemoglobin (HHb) concentrations were the primary outcome measures. Twenty-eight articles were included. Ten articles focused on assessing prefrontal oxygenation through a maximal incremental test (MIT) and 18 focused on using endurance tasks at workloads ranging from low intensity to supramaximal intensity. In four MIT studies measuring HbO , an increase of HbO was noticed at the respiratory compensation point (RCP), after which it decreased. HbO reached a steady state in the four studies and increased in one study until exhaustion. All studies found a decrease or steady state in HHb from the start until RCP and an increase to exhaustion. In regard to (non-incremental) endurance tasks, a general increase in PFC oxygenation was found while achieving a steady state at vigorous intensities. PCF deoxygenation was evident for near-to-maximal intensities at which an increase in oxygenation and the maintenance of a steady state could not be retained. : MIT studies show the presence of a cerebral oxygenation threshold (ThCox) at RCP. PFC oxygenation increases until the RCP threshold, thereafter, a steady state is reached and HbO declines. This study shows that the results obtained from MIT are transferable to non-incremental endurance exercise. HbO increases during low-intensity and moderate-intensity until vigorous-intensity exercise, and it reaches a steady state in vigorous-intensity exercise. Furthermore, ThCox can be found between vigorous and near-maximal intensities. During endurance exercise at near-maximal intensities, PFC oxygenation increases until the value exceeding this threshold, resulting in a decrease in PFC oxygenation. Future research should aim at maintaining and improving PFC oxygenation to help in improving endurance performance and to examine whether PFC oxygenation has a role in other performance-limiting factors. [Abstract copyright: Copyright © 2021 De Wachter, Proost, Habay, Verstraelen, Díaz-García, Hurst, Meeusen, Van Cutsem and Roelands.]
KeywordsRespiratory compensation point (RCP); Endurance exercise; Systematic review; Oxygenation; Prefrontal cortex; Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)
Year2021
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Journal citation12, p. 761232
PublisherFrontiers Media S.A.
ISSN1664-042X
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.761232
Official URLhttps://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.761232/full
Publication dates
Online26 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted27 Sep 2021
Deposited29 Nov 2021
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