Have you ever wondered why are you motivated to do an activity? Or how does your brain determine what activity is worth the effort, and is a priority or not?
A group of researchers at the University of Birmingham & the University of Oxford revealed that the eagerness to work is not static and relies on the changing levels of fatigue in our bodies.
Fatigue is the sensation of weariness from performing tasks with a lot of effort and is a phenomenon every human experiences daily. It causes us to lose motivation and desire to catch a break from the performance.
Scientists know the methods the brain applies to determine whether a presented task is worth the effort, or not, but are still unaware of how fatigue impacts this process and plays a role in it.
How did the researchers find out?
The research team carried out a study to examine the influence of fatigue on an individual’s choice to exercise effort. According to the results published in Nature Communications, people were less inclined to work and exercise effort if they were fatigued, even if they were offered a reward for doing it.
The researchers discovered two different types of fatigue identified in separate portions of the brain. The first type of fatigue is a brief sensation, which can recover back to the normal state of resting for a short time. The second type of fatigue is for a longer period, which stops people from getting motivation to work further and does not go away with a short rest.
The research members examined a sample of 36 young and fit participants performing a task on a computer. In the test, the participants were asked to exercise physical effort to achieve varying amounts of financial rewards.
The participants performed more than 200 trials. Every participant was required to either work straightly to win the higher rewards or to rest and only earn a small reward.
The researchers developed a mathematical model to foretell the impact of fatigue, the participants would feel during the experiment, and how that impact affected their decision-making process, regarding their choices to carry on working or to take a rest.
Another technique was an MRI scan of the participants during the experiment. It helped in determining what enabled the researchers to look for activity in the brain for activity in the brain that matched the predictions of the model.
The researchers uncovered regions of the brain’s frontal cortex that had activity that wavered in line with the predictions. A region named the ventral striatum gave signals on how much fatigue was affecting people’s motivation to continue working.
“This work provides new ways of studying and understanding fatigue, its effects on the brain, and on why it can change some people’s motivation more than others” says Dr Matthew Apps, senior author of the study, based at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health.
The author has added that this helps begin to get to grips with something that affects many patients lives, as well as people while at work, school, and even elite athletes.
The information in this news article is attributed to The University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health, Institute for Mental Health, and School of Psychology.