D-CIS Publication Database


Type of publication:Article
Entered by:NW
TitleMental and physical effort affect vigilance differently
Bibtex cite ID
Journal International Journal of Psychophysiology
Year published 2005
Volume 57
Pages 211-217
DOI doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2005.02.001
Keywords vigilance,mental,physical,EEG,FFT,Theta,Alpha
Vigilance concerns the basic human capacity for information processing and is therefore essential to any form of human cognition. Both physical and mental effort are thought to affect vigilance. Mental effort is known for its vigilance declining effects, but the effects of physical effort are less clear. This study investigated whether these two forms of effort affect the EEG (Electro-EncephaloGram; measure of brain activity) and subjective alertness differently. Participants performed a physical task and were subsequently presented with a mental task, or vice versa. Mental effort decreased subjective alertness and increased theta power (i.e. waves with low frequency) in the EEG. Both results suggest a vigilance decline. Physical effort, however, increased subjective alertness and alpha and beta1 power in the EEG. These findings point towards an increase in vigilance. Beta2 power was reduced after physical effort, which may reflect a decrease in active cognitive processing. No transfer effects were found between the effort conditions, suggesting that the effects of mental and physical effort are distinct. It is concluded that mental effort decreases vigilance, whereas physical effort increases vigilance without improving subsequent task performance.
Smit, Annika
Eling, Paul
Hopman, M.T.
Coenen, Anton
Total mark: 5