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28.05.2018 | Short Communication

Sports training and adaptive changes

Sport Sciences for Health
Francesco Sessa, Giovanni Messina, Anna Valenzano, Antonietta Messina, Monica Salerno, Gabriella Marsala, Giuseppe Bertozzi, Aurora Daniele, Vincenzo Monda, Raffaele Russo
Wichtige Hinweise
Francesco Sessa and Giovanni Messina contributed equally to this work.



Sports training and professional experience lead to changes in the human motor cortex and on the autonomic nervous system. This experimental study aims to investigate as sport activities can lead changes on the human motor cortex and on the autonomic nervous system (ANS), analyzing the Heart Rate changes and spontaneous Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) fluctuations in relation to the adaptive changes on the human motor cortex.


Three neurophysiologic parameters (rMT, MEP latency and MEP amplitude) were investigated using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS was applied to the primary motor cortex (M1) of 30 right-handed young karate athletes recruited. To evaluate ANS, HR (at rest and during exercise) and GSR (at rest and post-exercise) were measured. All data were matched with the records obtained by 30 non-athletes. All statistical analyses were performed using R.


Statistical significant differences were detected analyzing the data refers to neurophysiologic parameters. The HR and GSR values showed significant differences comparing athletes group with non-athletes group.


Our data suggest that there are significant differences analyzing the cortical excitability in athletes, compared to non-athletes. Furthermore, this data confirmed that the exercise training influences the parasympathetic tone, reducing HR. Moreover, a significant reduction in GSR parameters was reported in the athletes group, which is an indicator of stress level. The HR training helps to restore the autonomic balance and improves autonomic control that supports emotional regulation and performance coordination, so the training represents an advantage in reducing anxiety in athletes. Future studies could be used to investigate the differences of these adaptive changes respect to athletes’ level (for example, amateur vs professional).

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