OBJECTIVE: The present study used a neuroergonomic approach to examine the interaction of mental and physical fatigue by assessing prefrontal cortex activation during submaximal fatiguing handgrip exercises. BACKGROUND: Mental fatigue is known to influence muscle function and motor performance, but its contribution to the development of voluntary physical fatigue is not well understood. METHOD: A total of 12 participants performed separate physical (control) and physical and mental fatigue (concurrent) conditions at 30% of their maximal handgrip strength until exhaustion. Functional near infrared spectroscopy was employed to measure prefrontal cortex activation, whereas electromyography and joint steadiness were used simultaneously to quantify muscular effort. RESULTS: Compared to the control condition, blood oxygenation in the bilateral prefrontal cortex was significantly lower during submaximal fatiguing contractions associated with mental fatigue at exhaustion, despite comparable muscular responses. CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that interference in the prefrontal cortex may influence motor output during tasks that require both physical and cognitive processing. APPLICATION: A neuroergonomic approach involving simultaneous monitoring of brain and body functions can provide critical information on fatigue development that may be overlooked during traditional fatigue assessments.
- AdultAnalysis Of VarianceElectromyographyFemaleHand StrengthHumansMaleMental FatigueMuscle FatigueOxygenSpectroscopy, Near-InfraredYoung AdultCognitive DemandMotor PerformanceEnduranceNear Infrared SpectroscopyCerebral OxygenationPrefrontal Cortex