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Effect of mental fatigue on induced tremor in human knee extensors


Francesco Budinia, Madeleine Lowery, Rade Durbabac, Giuseppe De Vito

Publication Type: 
Refereed Original Article
In this study, the effects of mental fatigue on mechanically induced tremor at both a low (3–6 Hz) and high (8–12 Hz) frequency were investigated. The two distinct tremor frequencies were evoked using two springs of different stiffness, during 20 s sustained contractions of the knee extensor muscles at 30% maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) before and after 100 min of a mental fatigue task, in 12 healthy (29 ± 3.7 years) participants. Mental fatigue resulted in a 6.9% decrease in MVC and in a 9.4% decrease in the amplitude of the agonist muscle EMG during sustained 30% MVC contractions in the induced high frequency only. Following the mental fatigue task, the coefficient of variation and standard deviation of the force signal decreased at 8–12 Hz induced tremor by 31.7% and 35.2% respectively, but not at 3–6 Hz induced tremor. Similarly, the maximum value and area underneath the peak in the power spectrum of the force signal decreased by 55.5% and 53.1% respectively in the 8–12 Hz range only. In conclusion, mental fatigue decreased mechanically induced 8–12 Hz tremor and had no effect on induced 3–6 Hz tremor. We suggest that the reduction could be attributed to the decreased activation of the agonist muscles.
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Publication Date: 
Elsevier - Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology
Research Group: 
National University of Ireland, Dublin (UCD)
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