Examining the Effects of High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIE) on Corticospinal Excitability and Motor Learning
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High-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) is effective in modulating corticospinal excitability (CSE), and it has been shown to facilitate improvements in motor learning. This study examined the effect of HIIE on motor learning when HIIE was performed prior to multiple sessions of motor task practice. The effect of HIIE on CE was investigated using single and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) before (Pre), directly after (Post 1), and 30 min after (Post 2) HIIE. The effect of HIIE on motor learning was assessed using a complex movement execution (CME) task, during which participants reproduced complex trajectories presented on a touchscreen. Engaging HIIE was shown to significantly increase CE, as evidenced by an increase in CE from Pre to Post 1 (p=0.048) and Post 2 (p=0.003) time points. However, a significant decrease in intracortical facilitation from Pre to Post 1 (p=0.031) and Post 2 (p=0.002) time points was also observed. Performing HIIE before engaging in repeated sessions of motor task practice failed to demonstrate a significant effect on motor learning compared to non-exercising controls. Additionally, we were unable to detect a significant correlation between changes in CE and motor learning in participants who underwent TMS and engaged in the CME task after HIIE.