PURPOSE: Mental fatigue impairs psychomotor skill performance by affecting visuomotor reaction time, accuracy, and decision-making. Recently, neurocognitive functional performance tests (FPT) that integrate these outcomes have been developed. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of mental fatigue on traditional and neurocognitive FPT in healthy adults.
METHODS: Fourteen volunteers (four women; mean ± SD age, 22 ± 1 yr; height, 176.9 ± 8.4 cm; weight, 69.7 ± 10.4 kg) participated in a randomized counterbalanced crossover design. A 100% incongruent Stroop color word test of 90 min was used to induce mental fatigue and the control task encompassed watching a 90-min documentary. Traditional FPT comprised a single-leg hop for distance, countermovement jump, and Y-balance test, whereas the neurocognitive FPT encompassed the reactive balance test (RBT). All FPTs were evaluated pre-post the 90-min task. Mental fatigue was assessed using the Stroop task, visual analog scale for mental fatigue, and the Eriksen-Flanker task.
RESULTS: Mental fatigue was successfully induced, as shown by a significant increase in visual analog scale for mental fatigue (P < 0.001), with no decrease in performance on the Stroop and Eriksen-Flanker task. No interaction effect of mental fatigue was found for the Y-balance test, single-leg hop, and countermovement jump. For the RBT accuracy, a significant interaction effect of mental fatigue and time was observed (P = 0.024), with participants performing significantly worse when mentally fatigued. No interaction effect or main effect of condition and time was observed when considering the effect of mental fatigue on visuomotor reaction time in the RBT.
CONCLUSIONS: Mental fatigue negatively affects a neurocognitive FPT, indicated by a decreased accuracy in response to visual stimuli in the RBT. Traditional FPT remained unaffected by mental fatigue.