Regional brain wave activity changes associated with fatigue

Psychophysiology. 2012 Apr;49(4):574-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01329.x. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Assessing brain wave activity is a viable strategy for monitoring fatigue when performing tasks such as driving, and numerous studies have been conducted in this area. However, results of a systematic review on changes in brain wave activity associated with fatigue have revealed equivocal findings. This study investigated brain wave activity associated with fatigue in 48 nonprofessional healthy drivers as they participated in a simulated driving task until they fatigued. The results showed that as a person fatigues, slow wave activity increased over the entire cortex, in theta and in alpha 1 and 2 bands, while no significant changes were found in delta wave activity. Substantial increases also occurred in fast wave activity, though mostly in frontal sites. The results suggest that as a person fatigues, the brain loses capacity and slows its activity, and that attempts to maintain vigilance levels lead to increased beta activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alpha Rhythm / physiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Artifacts
  • Beta Rhythm / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Fatigue / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires