Campus Units

Aerospace Engineering, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, Kinesiology, Human Computer Interaction, Virtual Reality Applications Center

Document Type


Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Human Factors

Research Focus Area(s)

Ergonomics and Human Factors




Objective: The goal of this work is to determine whether muscular fatigue concurrently reduces cognitive attentional resources in technical tasks for healthy adults.

Background: Muscular fatigue is common in the workplace but often dissociated with cognitive performance. A corpus of literature demonstrates a link between muscular fatigue and cognitive function, but few investigations demonstrate that the instigation of the former degrades the latter in a way that may affect technical task completion. For example, laparoscopic surgery increases muscular fatigue, which may risk attentional capacity reduction and undermine surgical outcomes.

Method: A total of 26 healthy participants completed a dual-task cognitive assessment of attentional resources while concurrently statically fatiguing their shoulder musculature until volitional failure, in a similar loading pattern observed in laparoscopic procedures. Continuous and discrete monitoring task performance was recorded to reflect attentional resources.

Results: Electromyography of the anterior deltoid and descending trapezius, as well as self-assessment surveys indicated fatigue occurrence; continuous tracking error, tracking velocity, and response time significantly increased with muscular fatigue.

Conclusion: Muscular fatigue concurrently degrades cognitive attentional resources.

Application: Complex tasks that rely on muscular and cognitive performance should consider interventions to reduce muscular fatigue to also preserve cognitive performance.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Stephenson, Mitchell L., Alec G. Ostrander, Hamid Norasi, and Michael C. Dorneich. "Shoulder muscular fatigue from static posture concurrently reduces cognitive attentional resources." Human Factors (2019). DOI: 10.1177%2F0018720819852509. Posted with permission.

Copyright Owner

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society



File Format


Published Version