Effect of electrical muscle stimulation on cerebrovascular function and cognitive performance


It is known that electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can enhance physical function, but its impact on cognition and cerebral hemodynamics is not well-understood. Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of one EMS session on cerebrovascular function and cognitive performance. The 17 recruited young healthy participants randomly undertook either a 25-min session of EMS or a resting control session (CTRL group). Cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) in the middle and posterior cerebral arteries (right MCAv and left PCAv, respectively), cerebral oxygenation, cardiac output and heart rate were measured throughout the sessions, while cognitive function was assessed before and after each experimental condition. MCAv, cardiac output, heart rate and cerebral oxygenation were increased throughout the EMS session whereas PCAv remained unchanged. In addition, EMS led to improved scores at the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test-part B and at the congruent Stroop task vs. CTRL. The present study demonstrates that a single session of EMS improves executive function through increases in CBFv and cerebral oxygenation. Therefore, EMS appears to be a valuable surrogate to voluntary exercise and could therefore be advantageously utilized in population with severe physical limitations who would not be able to perform physical exercise otherwise.

American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology