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      The Effects of Time on Task in Response Selection - An ERP Study of Mental Fatigue

      a , 1 , 2 , 1

      Scientific Reports

      Nature Publishing Group

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          Abstract

          Long lasting involvement in a cognitive task leads to mental fatigue. Substantial efforts have been undertaken to understand this phenomenon. However, it has been demonstrated that some changes with time on task are not only related to mental fatigue. The present study intends to clarify these effects of time on task unrelated to mental fatigue on response selection processes at the behavioural and electrophysiological level (using event-related potentials, ERPs). Participants had to perform a Simon task for more than 3 hours and rated their experienced mental fatigue and motivation to continue with the task at several time points during the experiment. The results show that at the beginning of the experiment some unspecific modulations of training and adaptation are evident. With time on task participants’ ability to resolve response conflict appears to become impaired. The results reveal that time on task effects cannot be completely explained by mental fatigue. Instead, it seems that an interplay of adaptation at the beginning and motivational effects in the course of a task modulate performance and neurophysiological parameters. In future studies it will be important to account for the relative contribution of adaptation and motivation parameters when time on task effects are investigated.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Influence of cognitive control and mismatch on the N2 component of the ERP: a review.

          Recent years have seen an explosion of research on the N2 component of the event-related potential, a negative wave peaking between 200 and 350 ms after stimulus onset. This research has focused on the influence of "cognitive control," a concept that covers strategic monitoring and control of motor responses. However, rich research traditions focus on attention and novelty or mismatch as determinants of N2 amplitude. We focus on paradigms that elicit N2 components with an anterior scalp distribution, namely, cognitive control, novelty, and sequential matching, and argue that the anterior N2 should be divided into separate control- and mismatch-related subcomponents. We also argue that the oddball N2 belongs in the family of attention-related N2 components that, in the visual modality, have a posterior scalp distribution. We focus on the visual modality for which components with frontocentral and more posterior scalp distributions can be readily distinguished.
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            Reactions toward the source of stimulation.

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              The N2 in go/no-go tasks reflects conflict monitoring not response inhibition.

              The functional significance of the N2 in go/no-go tasks was investigated by comparing electrophysiological data obtained from two tasks: a go/no-go task involving both response inhibition as well as response conflict monitoring, and a go/GO task associated with conflict monitoring only. No response was required to no-go stimuli, and a response with maximal force to GO stimuli. The relative frequency of the go stimuli (80% vs. 50%) was varied. The N2 peaked on both no-go and GO trials, with larger amplitudes for both signals when presented in a context of frequent (80%) go signals. These results support the idea that the N2 reflects conflict monitoring not response inhibition.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Sci Rep
                Sci Rep
                Scientific Reports
                Nature Publishing Group
                2045-2322
                09 June 2015
                2015
                : 5
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors , Ardeystr. 67, 44139 Dortmund, Germany
                [2 ]Cognitive Neurophysiology, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the TU Dresden , Fetscherstr. 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
                Author notes
                Article
                srep10113
                10.1038/srep10113
                4460573
                26054837
                Copyright © 2015, Macmillan Publishers Limited

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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