Mental Fatigue Might Be Not So Bad for Exercise Performance After All: A Systematic Review and Bias-Sensitive Meta-Analysis
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AuthorHolgado Núñez, Darías Manuel; Sanabria Lucena, Daniel; Perales López, José César; Vadillo, Miguel A.
Cognitive ControlStatistical analysisExecutive functionsMental effort
Holgado, D., Sanabria, D., Perales, J. C., & Vadillo, M. A. 2020 Mental Fatigue Might Be Not So Bad for Exercise Performance After All: A Systematic Review and Bias-Sensitive Meta-Analysis. Journal of Cognition, 3(1): 38, pp. 1–14. [DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/joc.126]
SponsorshipComunidad de Madrid PSI2017-85159-P; Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades PSI2017-85488-P; European Commission; Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad; European Regional Development Fund; Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad, Gobierno de España MINECO 2016-T1/SOC-1395
There is an ongoing debate in the scientific community regarding whether a state of mental fatigue may have a negative effect upon a range of objective and subjective measures of human performance. This issue has attracted attention from several fields, including sport and exercise sciences. In fact, a considerable body of literature in the sport science field has suggested that performing a long and demanding cognitive task might lead to a state of mental fatigue, impairing subsequent exercise performance, although research in this field has shown contradictory results. Here, we performed a meta-analysis to investigate these inconsistent findings. The analysis yielded small-to-medium effects of mental fatigue on exercise performance, d z = 0.50, and RPE, d z = 0.21. However, a three-parameter selection model also revealed evidence of publication or reporting biases, suggesting that the bias-corrected estimates might be substantially lower (0.08 and 0.10, respectively) and non-significant. In sum, current evidence does not provide conclusive support for the claim that mental fatigue has a negative influence on exercise performance.