Associations between sensorimotor gating mechanisms and athletic performance in a variety of physical conditioning tests
- 63 Downloads
The elite athlete is fine-tuned all around to deliver favorable results in sporting events. In this study, we address the question of whether basic movements—such as reflexes—and heterogeneous attentional modulation components—such as sensorimotor gating mechanisms—are also tuned up to maximize the results of middle-distance runners in physical conditioning tests.
We selected an array of professional middle-distance runners and healthy counterparts that were submitted to measurement of (1) physical conditioning parameters, including somatotype, jump, strength, and flexibility tests; and (2) sensorimotor gating mechanisms, including acoustic startle reflex, prepulse inhibition, and habituation.
Our results showed athletes scored better on the athletic tests compared to controls, as expected. They also exhibited a lower startle amplitude, while maintaining higher prepulse inhibition values. They reacted faster to the acoustic stimuli, and sex-related differences—found in controls—were not present in athletes. Our data also pointed out to substantial correlations between sensorimotor gating and physical conditioning parameters.
All in all, these data may point to physical conditioning-driven neural plasticity of brain sensorimotor gating circuits in charge of triggering involuntary movements to harness control and efficiency over reflexed muscle activity.
KeywordsAnthropometric measurement Biological adaptations Bosco jump test Fitness Habituation Humans Prepulse inhibition Startle reflex
Acoustic startle reflex
Body mass index
We would like to express gratitude to Laboratory 2 of the INCYL, especially Ana Alves and Peter Johannesen for helping with the calibration of the startle sound source; Juan Carro for assistance with bio-statistics; and Kristiina M. Hormigo for language editing services.
SH and CM conceived and designed research. SH and AC conducted experiments. CS contributed new reagents or analytical tools. SH, DEL, and CM analyzed data. SH wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.
This study was partially funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, MICINN # BFU2010-17754. The funders did not take part in this study whatsoever.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no competing conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.
- Carter J (1982) Body composition of Montreal Olympic athletes. In: Carter J (ed) Physical structure of Olympic athletes part 1. The Montreal Olympic Games Anthropological Project. Karger, Basel, pp 107–116Google Scholar
- Carter JEL, Health BH (1990) Somatotyping: development and applications. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Donnelly AA, MacIntyre TE, O’Sullivan N, Warrington G, Harrison AJ, Igou ER et al (2016) Environmental influences on elite sport athletes well being: from gold, silver, and bronze to blue green and gold. Front Psychol 7:1167. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01167. PMCID: PMC4972835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Heyward VH (1977) Advanced fitness assessment and exercise prescription. Human Kinetics, ChampaignGoogle Scholar
- Judge LW, Burke JR (2015) Comparison of stretch reflex responses evoked during drop jumping in highly skilled athletes versus untrained subjects. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2015 Jun;55(6):587–595Google Scholar
- Marfell-Jones M, Olds T, Stewart A, Carter L (2006) International standards for anthropometric assessment. International Society for the Advancement of Kinanthropometry, ISAK, Potchefstroom, pp 32–89Google Scholar
- Parasuraman R (1998) The attentive brain: issues and prospects. In: Parasuraman R (ed) The attentive brain. Mit Press, Cambridge (3 ± 15) Google Scholar
- Rocha MSL (1975) Peso ósseo do brasileiro de ambos os sexos de 17 a 25 años. Arquivos de anatomía e antropología 1:445–451Google Scholar
- Swerdlow NR, Sprock J, Light GA, Cadenhead K, Calkins ME, Dobie DJ et al (2007) Multi-site studies of acoustic startle and prepulse inhibition in humans: initial experience and methodological considerations based on studies by the Consortium on the Genetics of Schizophrenia. Schizophr Res 92(1–3):237–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Valls-Solé J (2003) Startle and prepulse effects, chap 18. In: Hallett M (ed) Handbook of clinical neurophysiology, vol 1. Elsevier, pp 267–283. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1567-4231(09)70166-2 (ISSN 1567-4231, ISBN 9780444507259)
- Valls-Solé J (2012) Assessment of excitability in brainstem circuits mediating the blink reflex and the startle reaction. Clin Neurophysiol (1):13–20Google Scholar
- Würch A (1974) La femme et le sport. Med Sport Française 4:441–445Google Scholar