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Percept Mot Skills. 1997 Feb;84(1):291-8.

Effect of physical exhaustion on cognitive functioning.

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Laboratoire des Sciences du Sport, Université René Descartes, Paris, France.


Experiments utilizing reaction time to measure the effects of fatigue on cognition must discern sensitivity of peripheral and central processing to strenuous exercise. The additive factors method enables one to stipulate that if fatigue interacts with subjects' reaction time in a decision task, central processing is affected by fatigue. While pedaling at different intensities, 13 physically-fit men had to perform a series of short-term memory tests. The tests were executed during a constant workload session and a progressive workload session in which subjects pedaled until exhaustion. Subjects provided ratings on Borg's 1970 scale to measure the psychological effects of the physical effort such as perceived exertion. Allocation of processing resources was also measured to determine attentional constraints exerted by the dual-task situation. Analysis showed that decision reaction time was affected only during the exhausting bout of the progressive workload session and for the more difficult decision task. We discuss our results in the context of arousal and the allocation of processing resources.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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