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Mental fatigue and performance

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Goal: To unravel mechanisms behind the negative effect of mental fatigue on cognitive and physical performance.

Short summary: In modern society, fatigue is a common phenomenon. It is a major cause of errors/accidents in everyday life (traffic accidents) and at work, one of the most common symptoms of neurological disorders, and an important performance limiting factor in a sports context. It is therefore important to understand the mechanisms of fatigue and, if possible, to prevent/overcome fatigue.

In the past decade, the focus on 'mental fatigue' has increased. It can be defined as a psychobiological state that is caused by prolonged cognitive effort and that goes hand in hand with experiencing a feeling of mental fatigue and/or a decrease in cognitive and physical performance. Sports science recently provided some further insights into the link between mental fatigue and physical performance. Endurance and psychomotor skills seem to be the physical components that are most influenced by mental fatigue. However, the lack of studies that try to understand the role of neurophysiological mechanisms in the effect of mental fatigue is striking. Therefore, this project aims to unravel the neurophysiological mechanisms behind mental fatigue. For this purpose, advanced brain measurements are applied and combined, while dietary interventions (caffeine, creatine) are also used to investigate the specific role of certain mechanisms separately. Although the present project is rather fundamental, it will undoubtedly provide a number of clinically relevant insights to counter mental fatigue in the future, both in a sports context and in the workplace.

Recent output: