Exploring the influence of mental fatigue on sensorimotor recalibration in novice dart players


Despite the negative influence of mental fatigue (MF) on performance—induced MF results in decreased performance in cardiovascular tasks (Stewart et al., 2009; Wright et al., 2007) and strength tasks (Graham et al., 2014)—and its ubiquity in a variety of domains, MF research is often limited to physical tasks that require minimal sensorimotor integration. Perceptual-motor concepts fundamental to sensorimotor integration such as calibration/recalibration (i.e., scaling/re-scaling action capabilities to perceptual information: van Andel et al., 2017; Withagen & Michaels, 2002, 2007) may be used to conceptualize the mechanism linking MF to decremental performance. As such, this study's purpose was to examine if MF influences sensorimotor recalibration during a perceptual-motor task. Forty novice dart throwers were randomly assigned to a MF or control condition and performed 30 Bullseye aimed dart throws before and after (60 total) their 10-minute experimental condition. Following experimental manipulation, the MF group experienced significantly more MF (0-minute M = 17.25 VAS(cm); 10-minute M = 67.4 VAS) and demonstrated significantly worse error recalibration rates (F (1, 37) = 6.93, p = .012, ?p2 = .16; M = 4.3 mm improvement in Euclidean distance)—when controlling for pre-test accuracy—than the control group (0-minute M = 17.7 VAS; 10-minute M = 27.4 VAS; M = 18.17 mm improvement in Euclidean distance). These findings suggest that MF may cause a perturbance to perception-action coupling resulting in prolonged sensorimotor recalibration. Future research should expand on these findings to determine if and how MF impairs sensorimotor calibration/recalibration, particularly during perceptual-motor skill acquisition.

Acknowledgments: NSERC Discovery Grant; Ontario Graduate Scholarship