International Centre for Researchin Human Development,Tomsk State University
Background. Mental fatigue is a state of tiredness, decreased motivation, and increased aversion to performing a task. Mental fatigue is associated with the length of engagement in an activity (time-on-task) and the degree of cognitive e ort required. In addition, mental fatigue can be affected by personality characteristics, such as trait or domain-specific anxiety. ere is a lack of research into associations between mental fatigue and trait anxiety, as well as specific types of anxiety such as math anxiety.
Objective. This study investigates whether the level of mental fatigue manifested in an EEG taken during the performance of a mixed problem-solving task, is associated with math and trait anxiety.
Design. An EEG recording was performed on participants in a resting state with their eyes closed in two runs, both before and after they performed a task. e task consisted of three types of stimuli: arithmetic, algebraic, and lexical.
Results. The results showed that the EEG correlates of fatigue changed be- tween the first and second runs. These changes were not linked with mathematics anxiety. Some significant EEG effects were found for trait anxiety: people with high trait anxiety appeared more aroused and showed less fatigue effects. However, these results did not reach the level of significance after correction for multiple comparisons.
Conclusion. Overall, our results are in line with the motivational control theory, according to which mental fatigue “resets” when a person switches from one task to another. In our study, the experimental paradigm consisted of three types of tasks, a format which might have prevented fatigue. We discuss the implications of the study for further research into the links between anxiety and mental fatigue.
Keywords: Mathematics anxiety (MA), trait anxiety (TA), EEG, mental fatigue