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DOI of the published article https://10.1249/MSS.0000000000003221
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Individualized mental fatigue does not impact neuromuscular function and exercise performance


  • Darías Holgado Institute of Sport Science, University of Lausanne
  • Léo Jolidon Institute of sport sciences, University of Lausanne, Quartier UNIL-Centre, Bâtiment Synathlon, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Guillermo Borragan UR2NF, Neuropsychology and Functional Neuroimaging Research Unit at CRCN, Centre de Recherches en Cognition et Neurosciences and UNI – ULB Neurosciences Institute, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium, Brussels, Belgium
  • Daniel Sanabria Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Granada, Spain
  • Nicolas Place



cognitive load, maximal voluntary contraction, motor evoked potential, evoked force, NIRS, perceived exertion



Recent studies have questioned previous empirical evidence that mental fatigue negatively impacts physical performance. The purpose of this study is to investigate the critical role of individual differences in mental fatigue susceptibility by analyzing the neurophysiological and physical responses to an individualized mental fatigue task.


In a pre-registered (, randomized, within-participant design experiment, twenty-two recreational athletes completed a time to failure test at 80% of their peak power output under mental fatigue (individual mental effort) or control (low mental effort). Before and after the cognitive tasks, subjective feeling of mental fatigue, neuromuscular function of the knee extensors, and corticospinal excitability were measured. Sequential Bayesian analysis until it reached strong evidence in favor of the alternative hypothesis (BF10 > 6) or the null hypothesis (BF10 < 1/6) were conducted.


The individualized mental effort task resulted in a higher subjective feeling of mental fatigue in the mental fatigue condition: 0.50 (95%CI 0.39 - 0.62) AU compared to control: 0.19 (95%CI 0.06 - 0.339) AU. However, exercise performance was similar in both conditions (control; 410 (95%CI 357 – 463) vs. mental fatigue 422 (95%CI 367 – 477) seconds, BF10 = 0.15). Likewise, mental fatigue did not impair knee extensor maximal force generating capacity (BF10 = 0.928) and did not change the extent of fatigability or its origin after the cycling exercise.


There is no evidence that mental fatigue adversely affects neuromuscular function or physical exercise, even if mental fatigue is individualized, computerized tasks seem not to affect physical performance.


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