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The cross-education phenomenon: brain and beyond

Hendy, Ashlee M and Lamon, Séverine 2017, The cross-education phenomenon: brain and beyond, Frontiers in physiology, vol. 8, doi: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00297.

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Title The cross-education phenomenon: brain and beyond
Author(s) Hendy, Ashlee MORCID iD for Hendy, Ashlee M
Lamon, SéverineORCID iD for Lamon, Séverine
Journal name Frontiers in physiology
Volume number 8
Article ID 297
Total pages 9
Publisher Frontiers Media
Place of publication Lausanne, Switzerland
Publication date 2017-05
ISSN 1664-042X
Keyword(s) endocrine system
neural plasticity
resistance training
skeletal muscle
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Summary Objectives: Unilateral resistance training produces strength gains in the untrained homologous muscle group, an effect termed “cross-education.” The observed strength transfer has traditionally been considered a phenomenon of the nervous system, with few studies examining the contribution of factors beyond the brain and spinal cord. In this hypothesis and theory article, we aim to discuss further evidence for structural and functional adaptations occurring within the nervous, muscle, and endocrine systems in response to unilateral resistance training. The limitations of existing cross-education studies will be explored, and novel potential stakeholders that may contribute to the cross-education effect will be identified.

Critical review of the literature.

Method: Search of online databases.

Results: Studies have provided evidence that functional reorganization of the motor cortex facilitates, at least in part, the effects of cross-education. Cross-activation of the “untrained” motor cortex, ipsilateral to the trained limb, plays an important role. While many studies report little or no gains in muscle mass in the untrained limb, most experimental designs have not allowed for sensitive or comprehensive investigation of structural changes in the muscle.

Conclusions: Increased neural drive originating from the “untrained” motor cortex contributes to the cross-education effect. Adaptive changes within the muscle fiber, as well as systemic and hormonal factors require further investigation. An increased understanding of the physiological mechanisms contributing to cross-education will enable to more effectively explore its effects and potential applications in rehabilitation of unilateral movement disorders or injury.
Language eng
DOI 10.3389/fphys.2017.00297
Field of Research 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2017, Hendy and Lamon
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact