Research Topic

Effort-Based Decision-Making and Cognitive Fatigue

About this Research Topic

During their daily life, humans and animals must frequently make effort-based decisions about acting or not acting, choosing among several more or less effortful activities, stopping or maintaining an ongoing effortful activity. In the field of the effort-based decision-making, several questions remain to better understand how individuals engage or persevere in a cognitive or physical task that requires effortful control, especially the following ones: What exactly are effort and fatigue? Is effort capacity-limited? Which neural networks are associated with effortful control? What are the relevant cost and benefit signals influencing the decision-making process? How do feelings of effort and fatigue arise in consciousness? What are the best indices of cognitive and physical effort engagement and how do effort and fatigue interact?

Two dominant approaches attempt to explain how individuals decide to stop or decrease effortful control while attempting to meet task demands. On the one hand, the resource approach proposes that the decision to stop an effortful task occurs when the level of available cognitive resources falls below a critical threshold depending on individual characteristics, but this approach fails to identify what the depleted resources are. On the other hand, the cost-benefit approach assumes that the decision to stop is made when costs are higher than benefits, but fails to define precisely which costs are involved in the decision-making process: energetical, computational (i.e., number of processing units involved in effortful control), and/or opportunity costs.

These two approaches have used complementary methods. Functional brain imagery studies strongly support that several prefrontal areas, such as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula, are associated with effort-based decision-making and made some attempts to define their specific role in the decision-making process. Psychophysiology has also contributed to increasing our knowledge on effort deployment by identifying cardiovascular, electroencephalographic and pupillometric indexes of effort. Finally, computational approaches have been used to model the effort-based decision-making process.

The present Research Topic gives an opportunity for researchers with interests in psychology and neuroscience to submit new reflections, data and, modeling allowing significant advancements in the understanding of effort-based decision-making and cognitive fatigue in both symptomatic and asymptomatic population. Specifically, five subtopics are proposed:
(1) Theoretical considerations on effortful control and fatigue;
(2) Determinants and costs of engagement in effortful tasks;
(3) Neurobiological and psychophysiological indices of engagement in effortful tasks and associated cognitive fatigue;
(4) Effects of acute cognitive fatigue on physical and cognitive performance;
(5) Dissociation between subjective aspects of effort and fatigue.

Several types of manuscripts are preferentially expected: Original Research; Systematic Review; Review; Mini Review; Hypothesis and Theory; Perspective; Brief Research Report; Opinion.


Keywords: Cognitive effort, Effortful control, Executive functions, Exercise, Sequential protocol


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

During their daily life, humans and animals must frequently make effort-based decisions about acting or not acting, choosing among several more or less effortful activities, stopping or maintaining an ongoing effortful activity. In the field of the effort-based decision-making, several questions remain to better understand how individuals engage or persevere in a cognitive or physical task that requires effortful control, especially the following ones: What exactly are effort and fatigue? Is effort capacity-limited? Which neural networks are associated with effortful control? What are the relevant cost and benefit signals influencing the decision-making process? How do feelings of effort and fatigue arise in consciousness? What are the best indices of cognitive and physical effort engagement and how do effort and fatigue interact?

Two dominant approaches attempt to explain how individuals decide to stop or decrease effortful control while attempting to meet task demands. On the one hand, the resource approach proposes that the decision to stop an effortful task occurs when the level of available cognitive resources falls below a critical threshold depending on individual characteristics, but this approach fails to identify what the depleted resources are. On the other hand, the cost-benefit approach assumes that the decision to stop is made when costs are higher than benefits, but fails to define precisely which costs are involved in the decision-making process: energetical, computational (i.e., number of processing units involved in effortful control), and/or opportunity costs.

These two approaches have used complementary methods. Functional brain imagery studies strongly support that several prefrontal areas, such as the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and the anterior insula, are associated with effort-based decision-making and made some attempts to define their specific role in the decision-making process. Psychophysiology has also contributed to increasing our knowledge on effort deployment by identifying cardiovascular, electroencephalographic and pupillometric indexes of effort. Finally, computational approaches have been used to model the effort-based decision-making process.

The present Research Topic gives an opportunity for researchers with interests in psychology and neuroscience to submit new reflections, data and, modeling allowing significant advancements in the understanding of effort-based decision-making and cognitive fatigue in both symptomatic and asymptomatic population. Specifically, five subtopics are proposed:
(1) Theoretical considerations on effortful control and fatigue;
(2) Determinants and costs of engagement in effortful tasks;
(3) Neurobiological and psychophysiological indices of engagement in effortful tasks and associated cognitive fatigue;
(4) Effects of acute cognitive fatigue on physical and cognitive performance;
(5) Dissociation between subjective aspects of effort and fatigue.

Several types of manuscripts are preferentially expected: Original Research; Systematic Review; Review; Mini Review; Hypothesis and Theory; Perspective; Brief Research Report; Opinion.


Keywords: Cognitive effort, Effortful control, Executive functions, Exercise, Sequential protocol


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 September 2020 Abstract
25 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 September 2020 Abstract
25 January 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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