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Shoulder Muscular Fatigue From Static Posture Concurrently Reduces Cognitive Attentional Resources

Mitchell L. Stephenson, Alec G. Ostrander, Hamid Norasi, Michael C. Dorneich

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Objective The goal of this work is to determine whether muscular fatigue concurrently reduces cognitive attentional resources in technical tasks for healthy adults. Background Muscular fatigue is common in the workplace but often dissociated with cognitive performance. A corpus of literature demonstrates a link between muscular fatigue and cognitive function, but few investigations demonstrate that the instigation of the former degrades the latter in a way that may affect technical task completion. For example, laparoscopic surgery increases muscular fatigue, which may risk attentional capacity reduction and undermine surgical outcomes. Method A total of 26 healthy participants completed a dual-task cognitive assessment of attentional resources while concurrently statically fatiguing their shoulder musculature until volitional failure, in a similar loading pattern observed in laparoscopic procedures. Continuous and discrete monitoring task performance was recorded to reflect attentional resources. Results Electromyography of the anterior deltoid and descending trapezius, as well as self-assessment surveys indicated fatigue occurrence; continuous tracking error, tracking velocity, and response time significantly increased with muscular fatigue. Conclusion Muscular fatigue concurrently degrades cognitive attentional resources. Application Complex tasks that rely on muscular and cognitive performance should consider interventions to reduce muscular fatigue to also preserve cognitive performance.