Objective: Tiredness, low energy, and listlessness are common symptoms to be associated with depression. The question remains to what extent these symptoms influence the effects of fatigue on sustained performance tasks, such as impaired task engagement and performance. Based on earlier findings, it was hypothesized that dysphoric (i.e., mildly depressed) individuals, compared to healthy controls, would display earlier fatigue onset and more severe fatigue effects on task engagement and performance during a cognitive task. Methods: Sixty-one dysphoric and twenty-one non-dysphoric control participants were compared during one hour of continuous performance on a 2-back task. During the task subjective fatigue, subjective engagement, objective task performance, baseline pupil diameter and stimulus-evoked pupil dilation were measured. Results: While we found that the dysphoric group reported relatively higher subjective fatigue than the healthy control group at the start of the experiment, we did not find any other divergent fatigue effects during the experimental task. Conclusion: One explanation for the absence of divergent effect is that dysphoria may not have such a profound impact on available cognitive resources, like attention, as initially thought. Based on the results of the present study, we conclude that dysphoria is not necessarily an increased risk factor for impaired sustained performance on cognitive tasks that may induce mental fatigue.

doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0130304, hdl.handle.net/1765/83467
Department of Psychology

Hopstaken, J., Wanmaker, S., van der Linden, D., & Bakker, A. (2015). Does dysphoria lead to divergent mental fatigue effects on a cognitive task?. PLoS ONE, 10(6). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0130304