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The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review.

Van Cutsem, Jeroen, Marcora, Samuele Maria, De Pauw, Kevin, Bailey, Stephen, Meeusen, Romain, Roelands, Bart (2017) The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine, 47 . pp. 1569-1588. ISSN 0112-1642. E-ISSN 1179-2035. (doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0672-0) (KAR id:60767)


Background: Mental fatigue is a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of demanding cognitive activity. It has recently been suggested that mental fatigue can affect physical performance.

Objective: Our objective was to evaluate the literature on impairment of physical performance due to mental fatigue and to create an overview of the potential factors underlying this effect.

Methods: Two electronic databases, PubMed and Web of Science (until 28 April 2016), were searched for studies designed to test whether mental fatigue influenced performance of a physical task or influenced physiological and/or perceptual responses during the physical task. Studies using short (<30 min) self-regulatory depletion tasks were excluded from the review.

Results: A total of 11 articles were included, of which six were of strong and five of moderate quality. The general finding was a decline in endurance performance (decreased time to exhaustion and self-selected power output/velocity or increased completion time) associated with a higher than normal perceived exertion. Physiological variables traditionally associated with endurance performance (heart rate, blood lactate, oxygen uptake, cardiac output, maximal aerobic capacity) were unaffected by mental fatigue. Maximal strength, power, and anaerobic work were not affected by mental fatigue.

Conclusion: The duration and intensity of the physical task appear to be important factors in the decrease in physical performance due to mental fatigue. The most important factor responsible for the negative impact of mental fatigue on endurance performance is a higher perceived exertion.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s40279-016-0672-0
Uncontrolled keywords: endurance performance; mental fatigue; physical task; corollary discharge; peripheral fatigue
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Sport and Exercise Sciences
Depositing User: Samuele Marcora
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2017 13:24 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:43 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Marcora, Samuele Maria.

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