The purpose of the experiments was to examine the role of central command in the exercise-induced resetting of the carotid baroreflex. Eight subjects performed 30% maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) static knee extension and flexion with manipulation of central command (CC) by patellar tendon vibration (PTV). The same subjects also performed static knee extension and flexion exercise without PTV at a force development that elicited the same ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) as those observed during exercise with PTV in order to assess involvement of the exercise pressor reflex. Carotid baroreflex (CBR) function curves were modelled from the heart rate (HR) and mean arterial pressure (MAP) responses to rapid changes in neck pressure and suction during steady state static exercise. Knee extension exercise with PTV (decreased CC activation) reset the CBR-HR and CBR-MAP to a lower operating pressure (P < 0.05) and knee flexion exercise with PTV (increased CC activation) reset the CBR-HR and CBR-MAP to a higher operating pressure (P < 0.05). Comparison between knee extension and flexion exercise at the same RPE with and without PTV found no difference in the resetting of the CBR-HR function curves (P > 0.05) suggesting the response was determined primarily by CC activation. However, the CBR-MAP function curves were reset to operating pressures determined by both exercise pressor reflex (EPR) and central command activation. Thus the physiological response to exercise requires CC activation to reset the carotid-cardiac reflex but requires either CC or EPR to reset the carotid-vasomotor reflex.
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