Effect of the subjective intensity of fatigue and interoception on perceptual regulation and performance during sustained physical activity

Aaron Greenhouse-Tucknott, Jake B. Butterworth, James G. Wrightson, Neil A. Harrison, Jeanne Dekerle, Mathieu Gruet (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The subjective experience of fatigue impairs an individual’s ability to sustain physical endurance performance. However, precise understanding of the specific role perceived fatigue plays in the central regulation of performance remains unclear. Here, we examined whether the subjective intensity of a perceived state of fatigue, pre-induced through prior upper body activity, differentially impacted performance and altered perceived effort and affect experienced during a sustained, isometric contraction in lower body. We also explored whether (cardiac) interoception predicted the intensity of experienced perceptual and affective responses and moderated the relationships between constructs during physical activity. Methods: Using a repeated-measures study design, thirty male participants completed three experimental conditions, with the intensity of a pre-induced state of fatigue manipulated to evoke moderate (MOD), severe (SEV) and minimal (control; CON) intensity of perceptions prior to performance of the sustained contraction. Results: Performance of the sustained contraction was significantly impaired under a perceived state of fatigue, with reductions of 10% and 14% observed in the MOD and SEV conditions, respectively. Performance impairment was accompanied by greater perceived effort and more negative affective valence reported during the contraction. However, effects were limited to comparisons to CON, with no difference evident between the two experimental trials (i.e. MOD vs. SEV). Individuals’ awareness of their accuracy in judging resting heartbeats was shown to predict the subjective intensity of fatigue experienced during the endurance task. However, interoception did not moderate the relationships evident between fatigue and both perceived effort and affective valence. Conclusions: A perceived state of fatigue limits endurance performance, influencing both how effortful activity is perceived to be and the affective experience of activity. Though awareness of interoceptive representations of bodily states may be important to the subjective experience of fatigue, interoception does not modulate the relationships between perceived fatigue and other perceptual (i.e. effort) and affective constructs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0262303
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright: © 2022 Greenhouse-Tucknott et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Research Article
  • Medicine and health sciences
  • Biology and life sciences
  • Social sciences
  • Physical sciences
  • Research and analysis methods


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