Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Interaction of Mental Fatigue and Working Memory Capacity on Caloric Intake
by Ruggieri, Madelyn, M.S., University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, 2017, 52; 10629204
Abstract (Summary)

Background: In order to combat the overwhelming epidemic of obesity, it is imperative to better identify its etiology and contributing influences. Mental fatigue and low working memory capacity are two factors individually shown to be associated with increased caloric intake and weight related factors.

Objectives: In the current study, our primary aim examined the impact of mental fatigue on caloric intake in individuals of varying working memory capacities (WMC). The present study’s secondary aim was to explore other factors, including eating style, and body mass index (BMI) that may interact with working memory capacity and/or mental fatigue to influence food intake.

Methods: The sample consisted of 62 students aged 18-24 recruited from courses at University of the Sciences. Each participant was exposed to two sessions in counterbalanced order; one high fatigue session and one low fatigue session. Two versions of the Stroop task, with varying proportions of congruent and incongruent trials, were used to induce high or low levels of fatigue. Following completion of the fatigue manipulation, participants were presented with four foods and asked to eat as much of the food as they would like in a traditional taste-and-rate task. Caloric intake was then measured afterwards. Participants also completed an Operation Span (OSPAN) task, of which scores were used to group participants into high and low WMC groups, and questionnaires assessing demographic information, mood, hunger, and dietary restraint.

Results: The results did not support our primary hypothesis; Participants did not eat significantly more calories in the high fatigue or low fatigue condition. Additionally, WMC did not have a significant effect on calories consumed in the high fatigue or low fatigue condition. Exploration of our secondary aim resulted in some confirmatory results of previous findings. Those with a low WMC scored significantly higher on the dietary cognitive restraint subscale of the Eating Inventory questionnaire.

Conclusions: Although our primary aim did not reach statistical significance with the current sample size, results from the manipulation check suggest no difference in fatigue experienced between the high fatigue and low fatigue conditions. This, among other limitations should be considered when interpreting the results. Future studies should explore using a different mental fatigue manipulation, including a subjective measure of mental fatigue, adjusting the order of the OSPAN task, and increasing sample size. Despite these constraints, the study’s exploratory analysis provide confirmatory support for relationships between WMC, diet related behavior, and BMI. These relationships should be further explored in order to further identify factors contributing to overweight and obesity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Janke, E. Amy
Commitee: Light, Alysson, Moelter, Stephen, Timko, C. Alix
School: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
Department: Health Psychology
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: MAI 56/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology
Keywords: BMI, Eating behavior, Mental fatigue, Obesity, Psychology, Working memory
Publication Number: 10629204
ISBN: 9781369992953
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