Exploring the Role of the Left DLPFC in Fatigue During Unresisted Rhythmic Movements

SOURCE: Psychophysiology. 59(10):e14078, 2022 Oct.

AUTHORS: Vila-Villar A; Naya-Fernandez M; Madrid A; Madinabeitia-Mancebo E; Robles-Garcia V; Cudeiro J; Arias P

ABSTRACT: Understanding central fatigue during motor activities is important in neuroscience and different medical fields. The central mechanisms of motor fatigue are known in depth for isometric muscle contractions; however, current knowledge about rhythmic movements and central fatigue is rather scarce. In this study, we explored the role of an executive area (left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex [DLPFC]) in fatigue development during rhythmic movement execution, finger tapping (FT) at the maximal rate, and fatigue after effects on the stability of rhythmic patterns. Participants (n = 19) performed six sets of unresisted FT (with a 3 min rest in-between). Each set included four interleaved 30 s repetitions of self-selected (two repetitions) and maximal rate FT (two repetitions)
without rest in-between. Left DLPFC involvement in the task was perturbed by transcranial static magnetic stimulation (tSMS) in two sessions (one real and one sham). Moreover, half of the self-selected FT repetitions were performed concurrently with a demanding cognitive task, the Stroop
test. Compared with sham stimulation, real tSMS stimulation prevented waning in tapping frequency at the maximal rate without affecting perceived levels of fatigue. Participants ‘ engagement in the Stroop test just prior to maximal FT reduced the movement amplitude during this mode of execution. Movement variability at self-selected rates increased during Stroop execution, especially under fatigue previously induced by maximal FT. Our results indicate cognitive-motor interactions and a prominent role of the prefrontal cortex in fatigue and the motor control of simple repetitive movement patterns. We suggest the need to approach motor fatigue including cognitive perspectives.