Physical Exhaustion Induced Variations in Event-Related Potentials and Cognitive Task Performance in Young Adults

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Annals of Neurosciences


Background/Aims: Physical exhaustion is not always peripheral, and it is the brain that causes the sensation of fatigue either due to decrease of metabolic resources or due to central activation process that regulates attention and performance. This study was undertaken to observe the variations in event-related potentials (ERPs) and cognitive performance after an exhausting physical exercise. Methods: A total of 60 healthy young adult subjects were included in the study. The study was conducted in 2 phases with at least a week gap between the phases. The participants answered a Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20) questionnaire before and after trials in each phase to measure the induced physical exhaustion. In phase I (control trial), the ERP data were processed using P300, Standard auditory "oddball paradigm," on computerized evoked potential recorder (RMS EMG MK-2) using 10/20 system to know the engagement of attention after which participants were given to perform cognitive tasks such as "Stroop Test, Trial Making Test and Mini Mental State Examination." In Phase II (exercise trial), the participants were instructed to cycle as hard as they could, till they could not continue anymore, which was followed by recording of P300-evoked potentials and performance of cognitive tasks as in Phase I. Paired t test was used to compare between any dependent variables. Results: Fatigue-related subjective measures (MFI-20) showed that both mental and physical exhaustion were significantly greater in the exercise-involved cognitive trial than in the control trial. Lower P300 latencies reflect faster reaction time; however, their response accuracies were poorer resulting in poorer cognitive performances. Participants subjected to control trial performed better in terms of higher percentage accuracy but with slow reaction time. Conclusion: The participants experienced more fatigue physically and mentally during the exercise that involved cognitive tasks. An apparent decrease in attention based on decreased percentage accuracy of response was evident, implying that fatigue, performance, and attention are interdependent.

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