Evidence for central command activation of the human insular cortex during exercise

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112 Scopus citations


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether central command activated regions of the insular cortex, independent of muscle metaboreflex activation and blood pressure elevations. Subjects (n = 8) were studied during 1) rest with cuff occlusion, 2) static handgrip exercise (SHG) sufficient to increase mean blood pressure (MBP) by 15 mmHg, and 3) post-SHG exercise cuff occlusion (PECO) to sustain the 15-mmHg blood pressure increase. Data were collected for heart rate, MBP, ratings of perceived exertion and discomfort, and regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) by using single-photon-emission computed tomography. When time periods were compared when MBP was matched during SHG and PECO, heart rate (7 ± 3 beats/min; P < 0.05) and ratings of perceived exertion (15 ± 2 units; P < 0.05) were higher for SHG. During SHG, there were significant increases in rCBF for hand sensorimotor (9 ± 3%), right inferior posterior insula (7 ± 3%), left inferior anterior insula (8 ± 2%), and anterior cingluate regions (6 ± 2%), not found during PECO. There was significant activation of the inferior (ventral) thalamus and right inferior anterior insular for both SHG and PECO. Although prior studies have shown that regions of the insular cortex can be activated independent of mechanoreflex input, it was not presently assessed. These findings provide evidence that there are rCBF changes within regions of the insular and anterior cingulate cortexes related to central command per se during handgrip exercise, independent of metaboreflex activation and blood pressure elevation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1726-1734
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Autonomic control
  • Brain imaging
  • Brain mapping
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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