European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 7, pp 1599–1610 | Cite as

Cognitive demand of eccentric versus concentric cycling and its effects on post-exercise attention and vigilance

  • Benjamin KanEmail author
  • Craig Speelman
  • Kazunori Nosaka
Original Article



This study tested the hypotheses that eccentric cycling (ECC) would be more cognitively demanding than concentric cycling (CONC), and attention and vigilance would improve more after ECC than CONC.


Thirty young adults performed CONC and two bouts of ECC (ECC1 and ECC2) for 20 min at a similar workload (227.5 ± 51.5 W) with 1-week apart. Cognitive load during exercise was assessed by the average error from the target torque over 1200 (60 rpm × 20 min) revolutions, choice reaction time (CRT), the NASA-task load index (NASA-TLX), and prefrontal cortex oxygenation and deoxygenation (HHb) by near-infrared spectroscopy. Attention and vigilance were assessed by a sustained attention to response task (SART) before, immediately, and at every 15 min for 60 min after exercise or sitting (control).


Heart rate was lower during ECC1 (115.5 ± 20.3 bpm) and ECC2 (116.7 ± 21.0 bpm) than CONC (156.9 ± 19.4 bpm). The torque error was greater for ECC1 (26.1 ± 9.0%) and ECC2 (19.4 ± 9.0%) than CONC (10.8 ± 3.7%). CRT (CONC: 602.8 ± 69.0, ECC1: 711.1 ± 113.0, ECC2: 693.6 ± 122.6 ms) and mental demand in NASA-TLX (46.8 ± 25.8, 80.0 ± 15.3, 60.3 ± 17.6) were greater for ECC1 and ECC2 than CONC. Decreases in HHb were greater for ECC1 (− 0.41 ± 0.37 µM) and ECC2 (− 0.40 ± 0.40 µM) than CONC (0.10 ± 0.40 µM) and control (− 0.21 ± 0.28 µM). Attention and vigilance decreased 2–8% after 20-min sitting, but improved 2–10% immediately after ECC2, and did not decline from the baseline for 30 min after ECC1 or 60 min after CONC and ECC2.


Cognitive load was greater during ECC than CONC, but post-exercise attention and vigilance changes were not largely different between ECC and CONC.


Choice reaction time NASA-task load index Sustained attention to response task Correct detection False alarms 



This study was supported by an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship at Edith Cowan University that was awarded to the author. Authors thank all participants who volunteered for this study. There is no conflict of interest.

Author contributions

Kan: designed the study, collected and analysed the data, wrote up the manuscript draft. Speelman: designed the study, checked the final draft of the manuscript. Nosaka: designed the study, analysed the data, checked final draft of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Exercise and Sports Science, School of Medical and Health SciencesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia
  2. 2.School of Arts and HumanitiesEdith Cowan UniversityJoondalupAustralia

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