Fatigue affects the health and quality of life for many people, but there are few effective treatments for it, experts say.
Now new research suggests that redefining fatigue, and understanding how a brain region known as the cerebellum processes fatigue, may hold clues for better treatment.
Research by Pablo Celnik and his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University shows that performance fatigue, also known as “fatigability” — an objective measurement of a person’s ability to do a physical or cognitive task — can be different from the perception of fatigue — a person’s subjective assessment of the fatigue they feel.
Using more specific language — fatigability vs. perception of fatigue — to describe experiences of fatigue can be helpful in devising treatments, the researchers say.
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There is immediate value in using more specific language, said Natalie Tronson, a behavioral neuroscientist at the University of Michigan.
“People often think about” fatigue “in terms of ‘oh, people are tired all the time.’ But fatigue is so much more pervasive and detrimental than that,” said Tronson, who was not involved in the study. “And so this understanding of perception vs. physical fatigue and what that means and how we should conceptualize it or talk about it is really, really important.”