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Journal Article


Tan XR, Low ICC, Stephenson MC, Soong TW, Lee JKW. Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 2018; 28(3): 807-818.


Defence Medical & Environmental Research Institute, DSO National Laboratories, Republic of Singapore.


(Copyright © 2018, John Wiley and Sons)






The central nervous system, specifically the brain, is implicated in the development of exertional fatigue under a hot environment. Diverse neuroimaging techniques have been used to visualize the brain activity during or after exercise. Notably, the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become prevalent due to its excellent spatial resolution and versatility. This review evaluates the significance and limitations of various brain MRI techniques in exercise studies - brain volumetric analysis, functional MRI, functional connectivity MRI and arterial spin labelling. The review aims to provide a summary on the neural basis of exertional fatigue and proposes future directions for brain MRI studies. A systematic literature search was performed where a total of thirty-seven brain MRI studies associated with exercise, fatigue or related physiological factors were reviewed. The findings suggest that with moderate dehydration, there is a decrease in total brain volume accompanied with expansion of ventricular volume. With exercise fatigue, there is increased activation of sensorimotor and cognitive brain areas, increased thalamo-insular activation and decreased interhemispheric connectivity in motor cortex. Under passive hyperthermia, there are regional changes in cerebral perfusion, a reduction in local connectivity in functional brain networks and an impairment to executive function. Current literature suggest that the brain structure and function are influenced by exercise, fatigue and related physiological perturbations. However, there is still a dearth of knowledge and it is hoped that through understanding of MRI advantages and limitations, future studies will shed light on the central origin of exertional fatigue in the heat. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Language: en


MRI; Brain; Neuroimaging; central fatigue; exercise; hyperthermia; hypohydration


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