Preprint Review Version 2 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Locomotor Activities as a Way of Inducing Neuroplasticity: Insights and Perspectives on Conventional and Eccentric Exercise Approaches

Version 1 : Received: 12 July 2020 / Approved: 13 July 2020 / Online: 13 July 2020 (01:22:24 CEST)
Version 2 : Received: 3 August 2020 / Approved: 4 August 2020 / Online: 4 August 2020 (07:57:25 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: European Journal of Applied Pysiology 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s00421-020-04575-3


Corticospinal excitability and particularly the balance between cortical inhibitory and excitatory processes (assessed in a muscle using transcranial magnetic stimulation), are affected by neurodegenerative pathologies or following a stroke. Non-fatiguing conventional locomotor exercise, such as cycling or walking, decreases intracortical inhibition and/or increases intracortical facilitation. These modifications notably seem to be a consequence of neurotrophic factors (e.g., brain-derived neurotrophic factors) resulting from hemodynamic solicitation. Furthermore, it can be inferred from non-invasive brain and peripheral stimulation studies that repeated activation of neural networks can endogenously shape neuroplasticity. Such mechanisms could also occur following eccentric exercises (i.e., active lengthening of the muscle), during which motor-related cortical potential is of greater magnitude and lasts longer (assessed by electroencephalography) than during concentric exercises (i.e., muscle shortening). As single-joint eccentric exercise decreased short- and long-interval intracortical inhibition and increased intracortical facilitation (assessed by paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation immediately after), locomotor eccentric exercise may be even more potent by adding hemodynamic-related neuroplastic processes to endogenous processes. Besides, eccentric exercise is especially useful to develop relatively high force levels at low cardiorespiratory and perceived intensity, which can be a training goal in addition to inducing neuroplastic changes. Further studies are required to understand how neuroplasticity is 1) acutely influenced by locomotor exercise characteristics (e.g., intensity, duration), 2) modulated by an exercise-based rehabilitation program, 3) related to functional cognitive and motor outcomes relevant to pathological population.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Corticospinal excitability; Cortical inhibition; Cortical facilitation; Eccentric cycling

Comments (1)

Comment 1
Received: 4 August 2020
Commenter: Pierre Clos
Commenter's Conflict of Interests: Author
Comment: The article was update for specifications regarding exercise intensity of the different studies cited, as well as details on brain activity measurement techiques. Figure 1 was split into two sub-figures, which are now within the manuscript file.
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