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Chiara Gattoni, Michele Girardi, Barry Vincent O’Neill, and Samuele Maria Marcora

study seems a feasible way to assess in the laboratory runners who participate in multiday ultraendurance competitions. Practical Applications and Conclusions The combination of 6-week SDT with physical training seems to be well tolerated and effective in reducing perception of mental effort in the

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Mark Wilson, Mark Chattington, Dilwyn E. Marple-Horvat, and Nick C. Smith

This study examined attentional processes underlying skilled motor performance in threatening situations. Twenty-four trained participants performed a simulated rally driving task under conditions designed either to direct the focus of attention toward the explicit monitoring of driving or a distracting secondary task. Performance (lap time) was compared with a “driving only” control condition. Each condition was completed under nonevaluative and evaluative instructional sets designed to manipulate anxiety. Mental effort was indexed by self-report and dual-task performance measures. The results showed little change in performance in the high-threat explicit monitoring task condition, compared with either the low-threat or the high-threat distraction conditions. Mental effort increased, however, in all high- as opposed to low-threat conditions. Performance effectiveness was therefore maintained under threat although this was at the expense of reduced processing efficiency. The results provide stronger support for the predictions of processing efficiency theory than self-focus theories of choking.

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Eduardo Macedo Penna, Edson Filho, Samuel Penna Wanner, Bruno Teobaldo Campos, Gabriel Resende Quinan, Thiago Teixeira Mendes, Mitchell Robert Smith, and Luciano Sales Prado

10 minutes. Mental fatigue and mental effort data were gathered, and after the initial 5 minutes, their heart rate was recorded. These time intervals were standardized and tightly controlled. Treatment Mental fatigue was induced by a 30-minute paper version of a modified Stroop test. This test has

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Edward K. Coughlan, A. Mark Williams, and Paul R. Ford

high for mental effort. The intervention group is expected to rate mental effort higher and enjoyment lower when compared with the control group. Moreover, the effect of practicing a skill relevant to overall performance improvement should be an increase in accuracy of the skill across pre-, post-, and

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Aïmen Khacharem, Bachir Zoudji, Slava Kalyuga, and Hubert Ripoll

Cognitive load perspective was used as a theoretical framework to investigate effects of expertise and type of presentation of interacting elements of information in learning from dynamic visualizations. Soccer players (N = 48) were required to complete a recall reconstruction test and to rate their invested mental effort after studying a concurrent or sequential presentation of the elements of play. The results provided evidence for an expertise reversal effect. For novice players, the sequential presentation produced better learning outcomes. In contrast, expert players performed better after studying the concurrent presentation. The findings suggest that the effectiveness of different visual presentation formats depend on levels of learner expertise.

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Yoshifumi Tanaka

This study investigated the effect of psychological pressure on spinal reflex excitability. Thirteen participants performed a balancing task by standing on a balance disk with one foot. After six practice trials, they performed one nonpressure and one pressure trial involving a performance-contingent cash reward or punishment. Stress responses were successfully induced; state anxiety, mental effort, and heart rates all increased under pressure. Soleus Hoffmann reflex amplitude in the pressure trial was significantly smaller than in the nonpressure trial. This modification of spinal reflexes may be caused by presynaptic inhibition under the control of higher central nerve excitation under pressure. This change did not prevent 12 of the 13 participants from successfully completing the postural control task under pressure. These results suggest that Hoffmann reflex inhibition would contribute to optimal postural control under stressful situations.

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A. Mark Williams, Joan Vickers, and Sergio Rodrigues

Processing efficiency theory predicts that anxiety reduces the processing capacity of working memory and has detrimental effects on performance. When tasks place little demand on working memory, the negative effects of anxiety can be avoided by increasing effort. Although performance efficiency decreases, there is no change in performance effectiveness. When tasks impose a heavy demand on working memory, however, anxiety leads to decrements in efficiency and effectiveness. These presumptions were tested using a modified table tennis task that placed low (LWM) and high (HWM) demands on working memory. Cognitive anxiety was manipulated through a competitive ranking structure and prize money. Participants’ accuracy in hitting concentric circle targets in predetermined sequences was taken as a measure of performance effectiveness, while probe reaction time (PRT), perceived mental effort (RSME), visual search data, and arm kinematics were recorded as measures of efficiency. Anxiety had a negative effect on performance effectiveness in both LWM and HWM tasks. There was an increase in frequency of gaze and in PRT and RSME values in both tasks under high vs. low anxiety conditions, implying decrements in performance efficiency. However, participants spent more time tracking the ball in the HWM task and employed a shorter tau margin when anxious. Although anxiety impaired performance effectiveness and efficiency, decrements in efficiency were more pronounced in the HWM task than in the LWM task, providing support for processing efficiency theory.

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Oliver O. Badin, Mitchell R. Smith, Daniele Conte, and Aaron J. Coutts


To assess the effects of mental fatigue on physical and technical performance in small-sided soccer games.


Twenty soccer players (age 17.8 ± 1.0 y, height 179 ± 5 cm, body mass 72.4 ± 6.8 kg, playing experience 8.3 ± 1.4 y) from an Australian National Premier League soccer club volunteered to participate in this randomized crossover investigation. Participants played 15-min 5-vs-5 small-sided games (SSGs) without goalkeepers on 2 occasions separated by 1 wk. Before the SSG, 1 team watched a 30-min emotionally neutral documentary (control), while the other performed 30 min of a computer-based Stroop task (mental fatigue). Subjective ratings of mental and physical fatigue were recorded before and after treatment and after the SSG. Motivation was assessed before treatment and SSG; mental effort was assessed after treatment and SSG. Player activity profiles and heart rate (HR) were measured throughout the SSG, whereas ratings of perceived exertion (RPEs) were recorded before the SSG and immediately after each half. Video recordings of the SSG allowed for notational analysis of technical variables.


Subjective ratings of mental fatigue and effort were higher after the Stroop task, whereas motivation for the upcoming SSG was similar between conditions. HR during the SSG was possibly higher in the control condition, whereas RPE was likely higher in the mental-fatigue condition. Mental fatigue had an unclear effect on most physical-performance variables but impaired most technical-performance variables.


Mental fatigue impairs technical but not physical performance in small-sided soccer games.

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Shuge Zhang, Ross Roberts, Tim Woodman, and Andrew Cooke

to both the manipulative instructions and the subsequent performance. We used the rating scale for mental effort (RSME; Zijlstra, 1993 ) to examine the trying harder position. The RSME is a vertical axis scale that asks participants to rate their mental effort from 0 to 150, with increments of 10

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Theresa C. Hauge, Garrett E. Katz, Gregory P. Davis, Kyle J. Jaquess, Matthew J. Reinhard, Michelle E. Costanzo, James A. Reggia, and Rodolphe J. Gentili

suggesting that the emergence of performance optimality would be at the cost of increased mental effort, thus limiting enhancement of cognitive-motor efficiency. Thus, our approach can index the degree of optimality of the high-level plans underlying action sequences and when combined with mental workload