Neural fatigue by passive induction: repeated stimulus exposure results in cognitive fatigue and altered representations in task-relevant networks

Stefano Ioannucci, Valentine Chirokoff, Bixente Dilharreguy, Valéry Ozenne, Sandra Chanraud, Alexandre Zénon
Commun Biol. 2023-02-03; 6(1):
DOI: 10.1038/s42003-023-04527-5

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Cognitive fatigue is defined by a reduced capacity to perform mental tasks. Despite its pervasiveness, the underlying neural mechanisms remain elusive. Specifically, it is unclear whether prolonged effort affects performance through alterations in over-worked task-relevant neuronal assemblies. Our paradigm based on repeated passive visual stimulation discerns fatigue effects from the influence of motivation, skill and boredom. We induced performance loss and observed parallel alterations in the neural blueprint of the task, by mirroring behavioral performance with multivariate neuroimaging techniques (MVPA) that afford a subject-specific approach. Crucially, functional areas that responded the most to repeated stimulation were also the most affected. Finally, univariate analysis revealed clusters displaying significant disruption within the extrastriate visual cortex. In sum, here we show that repeated stimulation impacts the implicated brain areas’ activity and causes tangible behavioral repercussions, providing evidence that cognitive fatigue can result from local, functional, disruptions in the neural signal induced by protracted recruitment.

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus