Exercise Physiology, Intervention, and Collaboration (EPIC) Lab

UCF Division of Kinesiology

Overview

The Exercise Physiology Intervention and Collaboration (EPIC) Laboratory is a student-centered research laboratory that examines muscle function and cognition under various conditions. Faculty and students within the EPIC lab examine how different exercise adjuncts (blood flow restriction, altitude simulation) and nutritional supplements affect muscle growth and recovery, neuromuscular function, and cognition during fatiguing resistive and aerobic exercise. The laboratory is particularly interested in studying how these interventions can be applied to mitigate the adverse effects that long-term spaceflight exhibit on muscle function as well as nutraceutical modulation of cognition under conditions of physical and mental stress.

PARTICIPATE IN A STUDY!

Our laboratory is always recruiting for participants to partake in research studies. Participation in our studies not only helps contribute to science, but can also be a fun learning experience.

Ongoing Research Projects

The effects of ATP (adenosine 5’- triphosphate disodium) supplementation vs. Placebo on measures of mood, reaction time and cognitive performance.

The purpose of this study is to examine whether adenosine triphosphate (ATP) supplementation improves cognitive performance or mitigates cognitive decline when compared to placebo. The brain is the most metabolically active organ in the body and as such is particularly vulnerable to disruption of energy resources. As such, interventions that sustain adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels may have importance for improving neuronal dysfunction and loss. A number of metabolic agents have been shown to have beneficial effects on cognitive function through an ATP generating pathway, however, there is limited research examining the effects of direct ATP supplementation. In this study, we will be utilizing an exhaustive bout of aerobic exercise to induce cognitive function and will examine the effects of ATP supplementation pre- and post-exercise. This study will use the Dynavision visuomotor reaction time device, Neurotracker multiple object tracking assessment and the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics Cognitive test battery to assess cognitive function. This project will help us to better understand if supplemental energy substrate is able to help mitigate cognitive decline under stressful physical conditions.

Isotonic vs Isokinetic Leg Extensions: Differences in Neuromuscular Function

This research is examining how changes in muscle oxygenation influence performance in young adults. Typically, exercise protocols with blood flow restriction are done an isotonic exercise machine, however this is not typical for gym equipment. This study will compare neuromuscular differences elicited by an isotonic leg extension machine versus an isokinetic dynamometer. There are 4 total visits that we expect will occur for an 8–21-day period. The first visit will require approximately 30 minutes of time and the following three visits will be approximately 60 minutes each. Total time for the entire study is approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes spread out over different 4 days.

Isometric muscle fatigue and EMG signal processing

This research is being done to compare how muscles respond during different types of maximal and below maximal muscular contractions with and without blood flow restriction. There are 2 total visits that must have at least 48 hours between them. The first visit will last about 60-90 minutes. The following visit will last about 90 minutes. The total time for the entire study is about 2.5-3 hours spread out over different 2 days. For this study, you will be asked to complete several sets of leg extensions which will range from maximal effort to low effort. During these exercises, electromyography electrodes and mechanomyography devices will be attached to your leg. Electromyography measures the electrical activity of the muscles beneath it and mechanomyography measures muscle movement. Additionally, a blood flow restriction device, which is very similar to a blood pressure cuff (Figure 2), will be attached to the top of one of your thighs for all of the exercises. This device will partially restrict blood flow to the leg but will not fully restrict blood flow. These devices will be attached to your leg during the study so please wear shorts for both visits.

The Effect of Blood Flow Restriction Training Protocols on Neuromuscular Function and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

The purpose of this study is to compare two common low-load blood flow restriction (BFR) resistance training protocols. Some studies have shown that BFR results in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) while others have indicated that BFR may attenuate DOMS. In this study, participants perform leg extension exercise completing 4 sets to failure or a standard 75 total repetitions performed over 4 sets (1×30, 3×15). To date, no study has directly compared these two protocols on DOMS. We will be comparing several indices of DOMS as well as electromyography to assess neuromuscular function, near infrared spectroscopy to assess muscle oxygenation, and multiple strength outcomes to assess performance. The overall goal is to develop a better understanding of the relationship between BFR and DOMS. If BFR can be used to avoid DOMS then it may be useful in a variety of different settings when heavier loads cannot be tolerated including rehabilitation, clinical or inactive populations, or during long duration spaceflight.

Local vs Systemic Hypoxia: Effects on Neuromuscular Function, Muscle Fatigue, Muscle Swelling and Cognition.

The purpose of this study is to examine how changes in muscle oxygenation influence performance in young adults. Typically, changes in muscle oxygen occur when traveling to unique environments (altitude or spaceflight for example). In a laboratory setting, we can manipulate muscle oxygenation through the utilization of blood flow restriction (local hypoxia within a given muscle) or using altitude simulators (systemic or whole-body hypoxia). This study compares the differences between local (blow flow restriction) and systemic (simulated altitude) hypoxia on neuromuscular function, muscle fatigue, and cognition. Participants visit the laboratory on three different occasions and perform leg extension exercise under three randomized conditions (blood flow restriction, simulation altitude, and control). We are evaluating muscle function among these conditions using surface electromyography, interpolated twitch technique, near infrared spectroscopy, ultrasound, strength assessments, and cognitive tests. The outcomes of this study will help us better understand neuromuscular mechanisms under different environments and how muscles respond to these various stimuli.

The Effects of a Cooling Vest on Neuromuscular, Muscle, and Cognitive Function

The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of a cooling garment on exercise performance, neuromuscular function, and cognition. Thermal stress can negatively affect exercise performance by decreasing power and time to exhaustion. Exercise or work in extreme environmental conditions, such as a spacesuit, can induce thermal stress.  Cooling interventions can be used to mitigate heat-induced decreases in work capacity and reduce the probability of life-threatening conditions. This study uses metabolic data, electromyography, near infrared spectroscopy, ultrasound, and cognitive tests to assess how a cooling garment may affect exercise performance during a 10-kilometer (10km) time trial. This project is part of a larger collaboration with the Florida Space Institute.

Meet Our Team

Co-Directors

Adam J. Wells's profile picture at UCF

Adam J. Wells, Ph.D., CSCS*D, SCYM(ASCP)CM

Associate Professor
Exercise Physiology & Rehabilitation Science, Kinesiology
Location: Education Complex Room: 320J
Phone: 407-823-3906
Ethan Hill's profile picture at UCF

Ethan Hill, Ph.D., CSCS, ACSM-EP

Assistant Professor
Exercise Physiology & Rehabilitation Science, Kinesiology
Location: Education Complex Room: 320L
Phone: 407-823-1161

Selected Relevant Publications

Our laboratory makes a concerted effort to publish our findings in respected academic journals and present at regional, national, and international conferences. In addition to contributing to collective body of knowledge in a given field, presenting original data at conferences is a fun way for the lab’s students to enhance their self-confidence and network with other scientists.

Contact

The UCF Exercise Physiology, Intervention, and Collaboration (EPIC) Lab is located in Education Complex and Gymnasium (bldg. 21) room 174. The building is located in between Parking garage A and the Teaching Academy.

You may contact us by email at [email protected] or with the fillable form below. We look forward to hearing from you.

UCF Exercise Physiology, Intervention, and Collaboration (EPIC) Lab
Education Complex and Gymnasium
12494 University Blvd, Room 174
Orlando, FL, 32816

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