Neural mechanism by which physical fatigue sensation suppresses physical performance: a magnetoencephalography study

Exp Brain Res. 2022 Jan;240(1):237-247. doi: 10.1007/s00221-021-06250-1. Epub 2021 Oct 24.


The right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) has been proposed to be the brain region regulating performance through fatigue sensation in fatigue, but direct evidence has been lacking for right DLPFC activation when physical performance is suppressed in the presence of fatigue sensation. We examined whether the right DLPFC is activated when physical performance is suppressed by remembering a physical fatigue sensation. Eighteen healthy male volunteers participated. They performed a rest session followed by a handgrip session to induce physical fatigue sensation. Then, they were instructed to remember the state of the right hand with (i.e., the target condition) and without (i.e., the control condition) fatigue sensation as experienced in the handgrip and rest sessions, respectively while performing motor imagery of maximum handgrip of the right hand. Neural activity during both conditions was recorded using magnetoencephalography. The level of fatigue sensation was higher in the target condition than in the control condition. Decreases of handgrip strength and beta band power in the right Brodmann's area 46 were observed in the target condition, suggesting that the right DLPFC is involved in the regulation of physical performance through fatigue sensation. These findings may help elucidate the neural mechanisms regulating performance under fatigue conditions.

Keywords: Fatigue sensation; Inhibition system; Magnetoencephalography (MEG); Physical performance.

MeSH terms

  • Brain
  • Fatigue
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Sensation