In this study we examined whether the effects of mental fatigue on behaviour are due to reduced action monitoring as indexed by the error related negativity (Ne/ERN), N2 and contingent negative variation (CNV) event-related potential (ERP) components. Therefore, we had subjects perform a task, which required a high degree of action monitoring, continuously for 2 h. In addition we tried to relate the observed behavioural and electrophysiological changes to motivational processes and individual differences. Changes in task performance due to fatigue were accompanied by a decrease in Ne/ERN and N2 amplitude, reflecting impaired action monitoring, as well as a decrease in CNV amplitude which reflects reduced response preparation with increasing fatigue. Increasing the motivational level of our subjects resulted in changes in behaviour and brain activity that were different for individual subjects. Subjects that increased their performance accuracy displayed an increase in Ne/ERN amplitude, while subjects that increased their response speed displayed an increase in CNV amplitude. We will discuss the effects prolonged task performance on the behavioural and physiological indices of action monitoring, as well as the relationship between fatigue, motivation and individual differences. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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