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Vigilance and fatigue following traumatic brain injury

  • CARLO ZIINO (a1) and JENNIE PONSFORD (a1) (a2)

Research findings have suggested that individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) show greater psychophysiological and subjective costs associated with performing vigilance tasks, but have not examined relationships with fatigue. The present study aimed to investigate vigilance and its relationship with subjective and objective fatigue measures. Forty-six TBI participants and 46 controls completed a 45-minute vigilance task. They also completed a subjective fatigue scale (the VAS-F) and a selective attention task before and after the vigilance task, and had their blood pressure (BP) monitored. TBI participants performed at a lower level on the vigilance task, but performed at a similar level across the duration of the task. Higher subjective fatigue ratings on the VAS-F were associated with more misses on the vigilance task for TBI participants. TBI participants showed greater increases in diastolic BP, and these were associated with greater increases in subjective fatigue ratings on the VAS-F. A subgroup of TBI participants showed a decline in performance on the vigilance task and also showed disproportionate increases in subjective fatigue. Findings provide support for the coping hypothesis, suggesting that TBI individuals expend greater psychophysiological costs in order to maintain stable performance over time, and that these costs are also associated with subjective increases in fatigue. (JINS, 2006, 12, 100–110.)

Corresponding author
Reprint requests to: Carlo Ziino, Department of Psychology, Monash University, Clayton Campus, PO Box 17, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia. E-mail:
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