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The purpose of this study was to characterize cerebrovascular responses to rowing exercise, investigating whether their diurnal variation might explain performance differences across a day. Twelve male rowers completed incremental rowing exercise and a 2000-m ergometer time trial at 07:00 h and 16:00 h, 1 week apart, while middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv), cerebral (prefrontal), and muscular (vastus lateralis) tissue oxygenation and hemoglobin volume (via near-infrared spectroscopy), heart rate, and pressure of end-tidal CO2 (PET CO2) were recorded. MCAv was 20-25% above resting levels (68 ± 12 cm/s) during submaximal and maximal exercise intensities, despite PET CO2 being reduced during maximal efforts (down ∼ 0.5-0.8 kPa); thus revealing a different perfusion profile to the inverted-U observed in other exercise modes. The afternoon time trial was 3.4 s faster (95% confidence interval 0.9-5.8 s) and mean power output 3.2% higher (337 vs 347 W; P = 0.04), in conjunction with similar exercise-induced elevations in MCAv (P = 0.60) and reductions in cerebral oxygenation (TOI) (P = 0.12). At the muscle, afternoon trials involved similar oxygen extraction (HHb volume and TOI) albeit from a relatively lower total Hb volume (P < 0.01). In conclusion, rowing performance was better in the afternoon, but not in conjunction with differences in MCAv or exercise-induced differences in cerebral oxygenation.

Original publication




Journal article


Scand J Med Sci Sports

Publication Date





467 - 475


Cerebral blood flow, circadian rhythms, hypocapnia, rowing performance, Adolescent, Athletic Performance, Blood Flow Velocity, Circadian Rhythm, Exercise, Exercise Test, Heart Rate, Hemoglobins, Humans, Male, Middle Cerebral Artery, Oxygen, Prefrontal Cortex, Quadriceps Muscle, Time Factors, Young Adult