Original research| Volume 21, ISSUE 7, P654-660, July 2018

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Tramadol effects on physical performance and sustained attention during a 20-min indoor cycling time-trial: A randomised controlled trial

Published:November 07, 2017DOI:



      To investigate the effect of tramadol on performance during a 20-min cycling time-trial (Experiment 1), and to test whether sustained attention would be impaired during cycling after tramadol intake (Experiment 2).


      Randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.


      In Experiment 1, participants completed a cycling time-trial, 120-min after they ingested either tramadol or placebo. In Experiment 2, participants performed a visual oddball task during the time-trial. Electroencephalography measures (EEG) were recorded throughout the session.


      In Experiment 1, average time-trial power output was higher in the tramadol vs. placebo condition (tramadol: 220 W vs. placebo: 209 W; p < 0.01). In Experiment 2, no differences between conditions were observed in the average power output (tramadol: 234 W vs. placebo: 230 W; p > 0.05). No behavioural differences were found between conditions in the oddball task. Crucially, the time frequency analysis in Experiment 2 revealed an overall lower target-locked power in the beta-band (p < 0.01), and higher alpha suppression (p < 0.01) in the tramadol vs. placebo condition. At baseline, EEG power spectrum was higher under tramadol than under placebo in Experiment 1 while the reverse was true for Experiment 2.


      Tramadol improved cycling power output in Experiment 1, but not in Experiment 2, which may be due to the simultaneous performance of a cognitive task. Interestingly enough, the EEG data in Experiment 2 pointed to an impact of tramadol on stimulus processing related to sustained attention.

      Trial registration

      EudraCT number: 2015-005056-96.


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