Ever wondered why you get exhausted when something gets you worried? Well, a new study by Indian-origin researchers says has established the link between "brain work" and physical fatigue. The brain is just like any other biological tissue, it can be overused and can suffer from fatigue, it turns out.
The study showed that when we attempt mental tasks and physical tasks at the same time, we activate specific areas, called prefrontal cortex (PFC), in our brain. This can cause our bodies to become fatigued much sooner than if we were solely participating in a physical task.
Typically, endurance and fatigue have been examined solely from a physical perspective, focused primarily on the body and muscles used to complete a specific task.
“Not a lot of people see the value in looking at both the brain and the body together,” said Ranjana Mehta, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health in the US. The researchers found that there were lower blood oxygen levels in the PFC following combined physical and mental fatigue compared to that of just physical fatigue conditions.
Through simultaneous examination of the brain and muscle function it is apparent that when participating in highly cognitive tasks, brain resources are divided which may accelerate the development of physical fatigue, the study said co-author of the study is Raja Parasuraman, professor of psychology at George Mason University in Virginia.
The findings were published online in Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.