V. Harness, A. Galloway, E. Gahn, M.J. Laye

The College of Idaho, Caldwell, ID

PURPOSE: Multiple types of cognitive demanding tasks are capable of causing physical fatigue, including inhibitory control which is tested via a Stroop test. We sought to how cognitive performance changed during a 30-minute Stroop test before and after using an intervention with a brain training app. METHODS: Twenty-one college aged subjects participated were randomly placed in either the brain training group (BT) or the reaction time training group (RT). Testing consisted of 900 trials of a Stroop test, which lasted 30 minutes. The training intervention consisted of a three-week period where participants used brain-training cellphone apps, Brain Trainer and Color, for the BT group and Reaction Time for the RT group for a minimum of twenty minutes per day during the weekdays. Changes in 30 minutes Stroop test performance was compared in the BT and RT groups prior to and following the 3 weeks of training with a significance of p <0.05. RESULTS: Contrary to our hypothesis that 30 minutes of Stroop test would be mentally fatiguing we found that during the first Stroop test only the first 5 minute segments was significantly different, slower, from the overall average (871msec, ± 177msec and 815msec ± 100msec from 0 - 5 versus 805msec, ± 177msec and 786msec, ± 88msec for entire 30-minute average for BT and RT respectively; p< 0.05). Sub-analysis of incongruent and congruent trials had similar findings. 3-weeks of app based training improved overall performance in both the BT (805msec, ± 177msec to 727msec, ± 189msec; p<0.05) and RT (786msec, ± 88msec versus 696msec, ± 107msec; p<0.05). Sub-analysis of incongruent and congruent trials had similar findings. No statistically significant change in percent correct occurred. Lack of changes were present despite frequent complaints of mental fatigue by subjects. CONCLUSION: Results from our study suggest that cognitive performance during a 30-minute Stroop test does not change and is not improved to a greater degree using a brain training specific app versus a simple reaction time app. Future studies should identify how long of a Stroop test is necessary for a decline off in objective cognitive performance and whether a decline in cognitive performance is even necessary for a decline in physical performance typically seen following cognitively demanding tasks.

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