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Department of Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology


The purpose of this study was to examine prefrontal cortex (PFC) activation, neuromuscular function, and perceptual measures in response to a fatiguing task, following thermal alterations of an exercising arm. Nineteen healthy adults completed three experimental sessions. At baseline, participants performed maximum voluntary isometric contractions (MVIC) of the elbow flexors. Next, participants submerged their right arm in a water bath for 15 min. Cold (C), neutral (N), and hot (H) water temperatures were maintained at 8, 33, and 44◦C, respectively. Following water immersion, participants performed an isometric elbow flexion contraction, at 20% of their MVIC, for 5 min. Ratings of perceived exertion (RPE), muscular discomfort, and task demands were assessed. Functional near-infrared spectroscopy was used to measure activation (oxygenation) of the PFC during the fatiguing task. Reductions in MVIC torque at the end of the fatiguing task were greater for the H (25.7 ± 8.4%) and N (22.2 ± 9.6%) conditions, compared to the C condition (17.5 ± 8.9%, p < 0.05). The increase in oxygenation of the PFC was greater for the H (13.3 ± 4.9 µmol/L) and N (12.4 ± 4.4 µmol/L) conditions, compared to the C condition (10.3 ± 3.8 µmol/L, p < 0.001) at the end of the fatiguing task. The increase in RPE, muscular discomfort, and task demands were greater in the H condition compared to the N and C conditions (p < 0.01). These results indicate that precooling an exercising arm attenuates the rise in PFC activation, muscle fatigue, and psychological rating during a fatiguing task.

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© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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