Influence of affective stimuli on leg power output and associated neuromuscular parameters during repeated high intensity cycling exercises

The aim of this study was to examine the impact of emotional eliciting pictures on neuromuscular performance during repetitive supramaximal cycling exercises (RSE). In a randomized order, twelve male participants were asked to perform five 6-s cycle sprints (interspaced by 24 s of recovery) on a cycle ergometer in front of neutral, pleasant or unpleasant pictures. During each RSE, mean power output (MPO) and electromyographic activity [root mean square (RMS) and median frequency (MF)] of the vastus lateralis and vastus medialis muscles were analyzed. Neuromuscular efficiency (NME) was calculated as the ratio of MPO to RMS. Higher RMS (232.17 ± 1.17 vs . 201.90 ± 0.47 μV) and MF (68.56 ± 1.78 vs . 64.18 ± 2.17 Hz) were obtained in pleasant compared to unpleasant conditions (p < 0.05). This emotional effect persisted from the first to the last sprint. Higher MPO was obtained in pleasant than in unpleasant conditions (690.65 ± 38.23 vs . 656.73 ± 35.95 W, p < 0.05). However, this emotional effect on MPO was observed only for the two first sprints. NME decreased from the third sprint (p < 0.05), which indicated the occurrence of peripheral fatigue after the two first sprints. These results suggested that, compared with unpleasant pictures, pleasant ones increased the neuromuscular performance during RSE. Moreover, the disappearance of the beneficial effect of pleasant emotion on mechanical output from the third sprint appears to be due to peripheral fatigue.