Hypohydration alters pre-frontal cortex haemodynamics, but does not impair motor learning

Stephen P.J. Goodman, Maarten A. Immink, Frank E. Marino

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It is unknown how hypohydration influences fine motor performance training and motor learning. Here, 30 participants (aged 19–46 years) were randomly assigned to a hypohydration (HYPO) or control (CON) group (both n = 15). Moderate hypohydration (~ 2.4% loss in body mass) was produced in HYPO via active dehydration before a 46 min fluid restricted rest period was undertaken. The conclusion of rest coincided with when CON attended the facilities. Both groups undertook a discrete sequence production task consisting of 6 training blocks, and returned ~ 300 min later to complete a delayed retention and transfer test while euhydrated. Bilateral pre-frontal cortex (PFC) haemodynamics were assessed using functional near-infrared spectroscopy throughout training and delayed learning assessments. Response time improved across training (P < 0.01) and was similar between the groups (both P = 0.22). Analysis of training PFC haemodynamics revealed a significant group by block interaction for oxygenated (O2Hb; P < 0.01), but not deoxygenated haemoglobin (P = 0.77). In training block 1, bilateral O2Hb was higher in HYPO (P = 0.02), while bilateral O2Hb increased in CON between blocks 2–3 and 5–6 (both P ≤ 0.03). During the delayed retention and transfer test, no group differences or interactions were found in response time, response error, or PFC haemodynamics (all P ≥ 0.27). Moderate hypohydration does increase PFC activation during motor skill learning, however, this appears to be transient and of little consequence to training or delayed retention or transfer performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2255-2268
Number of pages14
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number9
Early online date26 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Cognitive performance
  • Dehydration
  • Human performance
  • Motor learning
  • Neuroimaging
  • Skill acquisition


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