Cardiovascular and Cerebral Hemodynamic Responses to Ego Depletion in a Pressurized Sporting Task

Jessica O'Brien, John Parker, Lee Moore, Simon Fryer

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the effects of ego depletion on challenge and threat states and cerebral hemodynamic responses to a pressurized muscular endurance task requiring self-control. Following the ethical approval, 58 participants (39 male, 19 female; Mage = 28 years, SD = 12) were randomly assigned to either an experimental or a control group. Participants then completed self-report measures of trait anxiety and self-control. Next, the experimental group performed a written transcription task requiring self-control, whereas the control group transcribed the text normally. Finally, before the pressurized muscular endurance task, challenge and threat states were assessed using demand and resource evaluations and cardiovascular reactivity, whereas cerebral perfusion in the frontopolar region (Fp1 and Fp2) was assessed using nearinfrared spectroscopy. The results supported the effectiveness of the self-control manipulation, with the experimental group transcribing fewer words, making more errors, and regulating their writing habits more than the control group. Although there were no differences between the groups in terms of muscular endurance performance or challenge and threat states, there was a significant interaction of Time (Pre vs. Post) × Group (Experimental vs. Control) in cerebral perfusion. These findings suggest that ego-depletion might not influence challenge and threat states but may lead to reduced cerebral perfusion. As such, cerebral perfusion may be a novel marker that could be used to assess ego depletion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages13
JournalSport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebral perfusion
  • Challenge and threat states
  • Self-control
  • Selfregulation
  • Stress


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