Triathletes are experts in self-regulating physical activity -- But what about self-regulating neural activity?

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From: Biological Psychology(Vol. 173)
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 399 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Brain volume; Cognitive control; Exercising; Neurofeedback; Sensorimotor rhythm; Self-regulation; Sport Highlights * Triathletes show a superior ability to regulate neural activity compared to controls. * Triathletes show larger gray and white matter in frontal areas compared to controls. * Triathletes show differences in brain structures associated with cognitive control. * Real feedback led to better neurofeedback performance compared to sham feedback. Abstract Regular exercise improves cognitive control abilities and successful self-regulation of physical activity. However, it is not clear whether exercising also improves the ability to self-regulate one's own brain activity. We investigated this in 26 triathletes and 25 control participants who did not exercise regularly. Within each group half of the participants performed one session of sensorimotor rhythm (SMR, 12--15 Hz) upregulation neurofeedback training, the other half received a sham neurofeedback training. The neurofeedback training session took about 45 min. In a separate session, participants underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to investigate possible differences in brain structure between triathletes and controls. Triathletes and controls were able to voluntarily upregulate their SMR activity during neurofeedback when receiving real feedback. Triathletes showed a stronger increase in SMR activity in the second half of the training compared to controls, suggesting that triathletes are able to self-regulate their own brain activity over a longer period of time. Further, triathletes and controls showed differences in brain structure as reflected by larger gray and white matter volumes in the inferior frontal gyrus and insula compared to controls. These brain areas are generally involved in cognitive control mechanisms. Our results provide new evidence regarding self-regulation abilities of people who exercise regularly and might impact the practical application of neurofeedback. Author Affiliation: (a) Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Graz, Austria (b) BioTechMed-Graz, Graz, Austria (c) LEAD Graduate School & Research Network, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany (d) Adidas AG, Herzogenaurach, Germany (e) Department of Biomedical Imaging and Image-guided Therapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria (f) Laboratory of Brain-Computer Interfaces, Institute of Neural Engineering, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria * Correspondence to: Institute of Psychology, University of Graz, Universitaetsplatz 2/III, 8010 Graz, Austria. Article History: Received 14 June 2022; Revised 1 August 2022; Accepted 6 August 2022 Byline: Silvia Erika Kober [] (a,b,*), Manuel Ninaus [] (a,c), Matthias Witte [] (a,d), Finn Buchrieser [] (a), Doris Grössinger [] (a), Florian Ph.S. Fischmeister [] (a,b,e), Christa Neuper [] (a,b,f), Guilherme Wood [] (a,b)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A714213992