Last updated on May 2018

Dopamine and Muscle Function in the Heat


Brief description of study

our goal is to study the effects of dopamine activity, using Ritalin ingestion, on neuromuscular function over the course of a progressive heating and cooling protocol developed in our lab. We hypothesize that Ritalin will minimize the previously reported progressive impairment in neuromuscular function with hyperthermia compared to placebo, suggesting that dopamine activity preserves neuromuscular capacity with hyperthermia.

Detailed Study Description

Increased core temperature (hyperthermia) has been associated with impaired neuromuscular performance, with the majority of research suggesting that the observed fatigue is related to the central nervous system. Small doses of Ritalin has been used to study how changes in dopamine activity affects exercise capacity in the heat. This study found that 20 mg of Ritalin had no effect on exercise capacity in a thermoneutral environment of 18C. However, when in a hot (30C) environment, the Ritalin resulted in a 16% improvement in finishing time compared to the placebo trial. Interestingly, the higher output during the Ritalin-hot condition also resulted in higher rates of heat production and a higher (~0.6C) core temperature, suggesting that dopamine enabled greater voluntary tolerance of hyperthermia. This matches recent work from our own work showing that motivational skills training increased both exercise tolerance and final core temperature, and it is possible that dopamine activity played a role in this improvement.

Ultimately, fatigue is shown in an inability to sustain muscular force. However, the role of dopamine activity on neuromuscular function (e.g., central activation and recruitment of muscle) during hyperthermia is unknown. One study reported that 20 mg of Ritalin did not alter neuromuscular function, but this study was done without thermal stress.

Therefore, our goal is to study the effects of dopamine activity, using Ritalin ingestion, on neuromuscular function over the course of a progressive heating and cooling protocol developed in our lab. We hypothesize that Ritalin will minimize the previously reported progressive impairment in neuromuscular function with hyperthermia (5, 7) compared to placebo, suggesting that dopamine activity preserves neuromuscular capacity with hyperthermia.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03515668

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Brock University

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