Movement-related desynchronization of alpha rhythms is lower in athletes than non-athletes: A high-resolution EEG study

Claudio Del Percio, Francesco Infarinato, Marco Iacoboni, Nicola Marzano, Andrea Soricelli, Pierluigi Aschieri, Fabrizio Eusebi, Claudio Babiloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The "neural efficiency" hypothesis posits that neural activity is reduced in experts. Here we tested the hypothesis that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during simple voluntary movement and that this is reflected by the modulation of dominant alpha rhythms (8-12 Hz). Methods: EEG data (56 channels; EB-Neuro) were continuously recorded in the following right-handed subjects: 10 elite karate athletes and 12 non-athletes. During the EEG recordings, they performed brisk voluntary wrist extensions of the right or left hand (right movement and left movement). The EEG cortical sources were estimated by standardized low-resolution brain electromagnetic tomography (sLORETA) freeware. With reference to a baseline period, the power decrease of alpha rhythms during the motor preparation and execution indexed the cortical activation (event-related desynchronization, ERD). Results: During both preparation and execution of the right movements, the low- (about 8-10 Hz) and high-frequency alpha ERD (about 10-12 Hz) was lower in amplitude in primary motor area, in lateral and medial premotor areas in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. For the left movement, only the high-frequency alpha ERD during the motor execution was lower in the elite karate athletes than in the non-athletes. Conclusions: These results confirmed that compared with non-athletes, elite athletes are characterized by a reduced cortical activation during simple voluntary movement. Significance: Cortical alpha rhythms are implicated in the "neural efficiency" of athletes' motor systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-491
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Volume121
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

Keywords

  • Alpha event-related desynchronization (ERD)
  • EEG
  • Elite karate athletes
  • Hand movement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Sensory Systems

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