Corticospinal excitability is altered similarly following concentric and eccentric maximal contractions

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To examine corticospinal excitability and neuromuscular function following the completion of eccentric (ECC) or concentric (CON) maximal exercises of same mechanical work.


Ten males (29.9 ± 11.8 years) performed maximal isokinetic knee extensor contractions in four experimental sessions. The two first sessions (one in ECC and one in CON) ended with a dynamic peak torque loss of 20%. The work completed in each contraction type was then achieved in the other contraction type. Neuromuscular function- maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC), voluntary activation level (VAL), potentiated doublet (Dt), M-wave- and corticospinal excitability- motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude and silent period (SP)—were assessed in the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles at 20% MVIC before and immediately after exercise.


To lose 20% of dynamic peak torque subjects performed 1.8 times more work in ECC than CON (P = 0.03), inducing a non-different decline in MVIC (P = 0.15). VAL dropped after the ECC sessions only (− 8.5 ± 6.7%; all P < 0.027). Only, the CON session featuring the greatest work affected Dt amplitude (− 9.4 ± 23.8%; P = 0.047). In both muscles, MEP amplitude decreased (all P < 0.001) and MEP SP stayed constant (all P > 0.45), irrespective of contraction type (all P > 0.15).


Same-work maximal ECC and CON exercises induced similar fatigue level but from different origins (preferentially central for ECC vs peripheral for CON). Yet, net corticospinal excitability did not depend on contraction type.

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Fig. 1
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Fig. 5

Change history



Analysis of variance




Concentric session aiming for 20% MVIC loss


Concentric session aiming for the work completed in ECCF


Double twitch


Superimposed double twitch




Eccentric session aiming for 20% MVIC loss


Eccentric session aiming for the work completed in CONF




Maximal voluntary isometric contraction


Maximal voluntary isometric contraction when stimulated


Maximal M-wave


Rectus femoris


Root mean square


Silent period


Transcranial magnetic stimulation


Voluntary activation level


Vastus lateralis


Surface ElectroMyoGraphy for the Non-Invasive Assessment of Muscles


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All authors discussed the protocol design. PC and RL finalized the design. PC implemented the study and drafted the manuscript. YG, AM, and RL critically revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version for submission.

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Correspondence to Pierre Clos.

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Clos, P., Garnier, Y., Martin, A. et al. Corticospinal excitability is altered similarly following concentric and eccentric maximal contractions. Eur J Appl Physiol 120, 1457–1469 (2020).

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  • Contraction type
  • Motor evoked potential
  • Neuromuscular fatigue
  • Fatigue etiology
  • Silent period