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Biol Psychol. 2012 Jan;89(1):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.10.008. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Cognitive task performance causes impaired maximum force production in human hand flexor muscles.

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  • 1Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to investigate effects of demanding cognitive task performance on intermittent maximum voluntary muscle contraction (MVC) force production. Participants performed either a modified Stroop or control task for 22 min. After the first min and at 3-min intervals thereafter, participants rated fatigue, perceived mental exertion and performed a 4-s MVC handgrip squeeze. A mixed ANOVA showed a significant interaction, F(7, 259)=2.43, p=.02, with a significant linear reduction in MVC force production over time in the cognitively depleting condition (p=.01) and no change for controls. Ratings of perceived mental exertion, F(7, 252)=2.39, p<.05, mirrored the force production results with a greater linear increase over time in the cognitive depletion condition (p<.001) compared to controls. Findings support current views that performance of cognitively demanding tasks diminishes central nervous system resources that govern self-regulation of physical tasks requiring maximal voluntary effort.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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