Hofstetter, Jonas


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Trait Self-Control Outperforms Trait Fatigue in Predicting MS Patients’ Cortical and Perceptual Responses to an Exhaustive Task

2019-04-24, Wolff, Wanja, Schüler, Julia, Hofstetter, Jonas, Baumann, Lorena, Wolf, Lena, Dettmers, Christian

Patients with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) frequently suffer from fatigue, but this debilitating symptom is not yet fully understood. We propose that self-control can be conceptually and mechanistically linked to the fatigue concept and might help explain some of the diversity on how PwMS who suffer from fatigue deal with this symptom. To test this claim, we first assessed how cortical oxygenation and measures of motor and cognitive state fatigue change during a strenuous physical task, and then we tested the predictive validity of trait fatigue and trait self-control in explaining the observed changes. A sample of PwMS first completed a test battery to collect trait measures of fatigue and self-control. PwMS then performed an isometric hand contraction task at 10% of their maximum voluntary contraction until exhaustion while we repeatedly assessed ratings of perceived cognitive and motor exertion. In addition, we continuously measured oxygenation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) using functional near-infrared spectroscopy. Linear mixed-effect models revealed significant increases in perceived motor and cognitive exertion, as well as increases in PFC oxygenation. Hierarchical stepwise regression analyses showed that higher trait self-control predicted a less steep increase in PFC oxygenation and perceived cognitive exertion, while trait fatigue did not predict change in any dependent variable. These results provide preliminary evidence for the suggested link between self-control and fatigue. As self-control can be enhanced with training, this finding possibly has important implications for devising nonpharmacological interventions to help patients deal with symptoms of fatigue.


The interplay of achievement motive-goal incongruence and state and trait self-control : a pilot study considering cortical correlates of self-control

2019, Schüler, Julia, Hofstetter, Jonas, Wolff, Wanja

Objective: This study utilized different theoretical perspectives to better understand motor performance. We refered to concepts of achievement motive-goal incongruence and assessed cortical correlates of self-control. We assumed that more self-control is required when people act in conformance with an incongruent goal which, in turn, results in impaired performance. We considered the activation of a brain area associated with self-control (dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, dLPFC) as a consequence of motive-goal incongruence. Furthermore, we analyzed whether trait self-control buffers the negative effects of achievement motive—goal incongruence.
Method: Twenty-eight participants (17 women, mean age: 24 years), whose implicit achievement motives were assessed at the beginning of the study, performed a handgrip task in an achievement goal condition and in three incongruent conditions, while their dLPFC oxygenation was monitored continuously (using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, fNIRS).
Results: None of the two-way interactions (motive goal condition) reached significance. A significant three-way interaction (motive trait self-control goal condition) showed that trait self-control buffered the detrimental effects of incongruence on motor performance. The nature of the three-way interaction predicting dLPFC oxygenation was unexpected.
Conclusions: Although our results have to be treated with caution due to a small sample size, we see them as an encouraging starting point for further research on the interplay between motive-goal incongruence and trait and cortical correlates of state self-control that we assume to be important to understand performance in strenuous tasks.