A multifaceted investigation of the link between mental fatigue and task disengagement

Jesper F. HOPSTAKEN, Dimitri VAN DER LINDEN, Arnold B. BAKKER, Michiel A. J. KOMPIER

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

272 Citations (Scopus)


Mental fatigue is often characterized by reduced motivation for effortful activity and impaired task performance. We used subjective, behavioral (performance), and psychophysiological (P3, pupil diameter) measures during an n-back task to investigate the link between mental fatigue and task disengagement. After 2h, we manipulated the rewards to examine a possible reengagement effect. Analyses showed that, with increasing fatigue and time-on-task, performance, P3 amplitude, and pupil diameter decreased. After increasing the rewards, all measures reverted to higher levels. Multilevel analysis revealed positive correlations between the used measures with time-on-task. We interpret these results as support for a strong link between task disengagement and mental fatigue.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-315
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Early online date26 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Fatigue
  • Motivation
  • P3
  • Pupil diameter
  • Task engagement


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