Modulation of cold-induced shivering activity by intermittent and continuous voluntary suppression

Josh T. Arnold, Jack F. Lennon, Alex B. Lloyd

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This investigation assessed the physiological effects of voluntary suppression of shivering thermogenesis in response to whole body cooling. Eleven healthy volunteers underwent passive air cooling (10°C), across three visits: NO_SUP, where participants allowed their body to freely regulate against the cold; FULL_SUP, where participants constantly suppressed shivering; INT_SUP, where participants intermittently suppressed shivering (5 min phases), interspersed with 5 min free regulation. Shivering was assessed via electromyography (EMG), mechanomyography (MMG), and whole body oxygen uptake (V̇o2), whereas body temperature and heat exchange were assessed via skin temperature, rectal temperature, and heat flux sensors. A 29% increase was observed in shivering onset time in the FULL_SUP trial compared with NO_SUP (P = 0.032). Assessing shivering intensity, EMG activity decreased by 29% (P = 0.034), MMG activity decreased by 35% (P = 0.031), whereas no difference was observed in V̇o2 (P = 0.091) in the FULL_SUP trial compared with NO_SUP. Partitioning the no-suppression and suppression phases of the INT_SUP trial, acute voluntary suppression significantly decreased V̇o2 (P = 0.001), EMG (P < 0.001), and MMG (P = 0.012) activity compared with the no-suppression phases. Shivering activity was restored in the no-suppression phases, equivalent to that in the NO_SUP trial (P > 0.3). No difference was observed in thermal metrics between conditions up to 60 min (P > 0.4). Humans can both constantly and periodically suppress shivering activity, leading to a delay in shivering onset and a reduction in shivering intensity. Following suppression, regular shivering is resumed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R102-R108
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1
Early online date28 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • autonomic
  • cold
  • shivering
  • suppression
  • voluntary

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