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The role of the brain in physical and mental fatigue

ARIS Code: N5-0246

Project duration: 1. 1. 2022–31. 12. 2025

Project leader: Uroš Marušič, PhD

Participating institute at ZRS KoperInstitute for Kinesiology Research

Fatigue –tiredness, exhaustion- describes a physical and/or mental state of being tired and lack of energy. There is a wide range of causes of fatigue such as medical conditions, life-style or work-space related issues, but also emotional concerns and stress. Fatigue occurring during exercise consists of a complex interaction between peripheral (muscle) and central (central nervous system) aspects. There is an important role for the brain (neurotransmission) in exercise-induced fatigue, but at the same time there is a lack of evidence on what that role is, and how this could be mechanistically explained. Also mental fatigue resides from the brain, but little is known about its mechanisms.

In this project we want to determine how (mechanistically) and where (location in the brain) fatigue resides. To do this we will manipulate brain neurotransmission (serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline) and we will determine which brain regions play an important role in the onset of physical (WP1) and mental (WP2) fatigue through the measurement of brain activity with electroencephalography (EEG). In the final stage (WP3) we will combine both forms of fatigue to determine which cortical areas and neurotransmitters are potentially involved in the negative effects of mental fatigue on the perception of effort and endurance performance. The present project progresses on the current knowledge to further unravel the complex central triggers of fatigue during mental and/or physical effort.