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Mental Effort and Muscle Strength

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Identifier:
First received: April 25, 2003
Last updated: September 23, 2016
Last verified: May 2011
The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of mental effort on improving muscle strength.

Condition Intervention Phase
Muscle Strength
Behavioral: Mental effort in muscle strengthening
Phase 1

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Mental-effort Effect on Large Muscle Strengthening

Further study details as provided by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD):

Study Start Date: October 1999
Primary Completion Date: September 2004 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:

Training that involves heavy loads or resistance strengthens muscles. Recent data suggest that substantial voluntary strength gains can be achieved with training involving low resistance and strong mental effort. In contrast, individuals who train with the same low intensity contractions but with low mental effort show no improvement in strength.

This study will evaluate the relationship between mental effort muscle strength improvements by comparing the improvement in muscle strength in participants who have trained with different levels of mental effort. In addition to evaluating muscle strength, this study will also examine the neural mechanisms underlying muscle strength improvements.

Four groups of volunteers (65 years old and over) will participate in a training program directed at elbow-flexor muscles. One group will be trained with an intensity near the level of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC group); a second group will be trained with high mental effort, low muscle intensity contractions (HME group); a third group will be trained with low mental effort, low muscle intensity elbow-flexion contractions (LME group); and the fourth (control) group will not be trained but will participate in the strength tests. Training will be performed every weekday for 12 weeks. Participants will be evaluated by functional MRI (fMRI), EEG-derived motor activity-related cortical potential (MRCP), surface EMG signals, and the MRI T2 relaxation time.

Preliminary analysis of results shows that the HME group gained more than 13% strength, the LME group showed a statistically insignificant 6% change, and the no-practice control group did not show any change in elbow flexor muscle strength. We expect the MVC group to have the highest strength gains among the four groups.


Ages Eligible for Study:   65 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria

  • Healthy individuals free of neurological impairment

Exclusion Criteria

  • Already involved in regular physical training
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Medications known to affect neuromuscular system (other than moderate alcohol or caffeine)
  • Left-hand dominant
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00059436

United States, Ohio
Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland, Ohio, United States, 44195
Sponsors and Collaborators
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Principal Investigator: Guang H. Yue, Ph.D. Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Biomedical Engineering
  More Information Identifier: NCT00059436     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 1R01HD036725 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: April 25, 2003
Last Updated: September 23, 2016

Keywords provided by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD):
Muscle strengthening
Skeletal muscle Contractions
Rehabilitative exercise processed this record on May 25, 2017