No evidence of the effect of cognitive load on self-paced cycling performance
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Holgado D, Zabala M, Sanabria D (2019) No evidence of the effect of cognitive load on selfpaced cycling performance. PLoS ONE 14(5): e0217825.
SponsorshipThis project was supported by grant PSI2016-75956-P from Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad, awarded to DS and MZ, and grant FPU14/06229 from Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, awarded to DH.
To test the hypothesis that cognitive load (low vs. high load) during a 20 min self-paced cycling exercise affects physical performance. Bayes analyses revealed extreme evidence for the 2-back task being more demanding than the 1-back task, both in terms of accuracy (BF10 = 4490) and reaction time (BF = 1316). The data only showed anecdotal evidence for the alternative hypothesis for the power output (BF10 = 1.52), moderate evidence for the null hypothesis for the heart rate (BF10 = 0.172), anecdotal evidence for RPE (BF10 = 0.72) and anecdotal evidence for mental fatigue (BF10 = 0.588). Our data seem to challenge the idea that self-paced exercise is regulated by top-down processing, given that we did not show clear evidence of exercise impairment (at the physical, physiological and subjective levels) in the high cognitive load condition task with respect to the low working memory load condition. The involvement of top-down processing in selfpacing the physical effort, however, cannot be totally discarded. Factors like the duration of the physical and cognitive tasks, the potential influence of dual-tasking, and the participants’ level of expertise, should be taken into account in future attempts to investigate the role of top-down processing in self-paced exercise.