I used the term “cognitive fatigue” in a very private, behind-the-scenes note on an agricultural forum where I am a moderator, administrator, and more.
Can you elaborate on the ” differences between “Cognitive Fatigue” between normal people and us crazies.”?
My answer to my friends was:
It basically boils down to how we relax. Some relaxation is healthy. Some is not. Here is one very simple and easy-to-understand definition of Cognitive Fatigue:
[quote]Cognitive fatigue is conceptualized as an executive failure to maintain and optimize performance over acute but sustained cognitive effort resulting in performance that is lower and more variable than the individual’s optimal ability.[/quote]
Well, I don’t really know what that means. I’m probably in cognitive fatigue from reading it.
However, in terms I can understand and explain, it means that different people need to relax differently. Not all replenish their brains and bodies the same way. Some of us over do it — big time.
Even today, I can go for many many hours, without taking any kind of a break if I’m doing something my brain is really intensely engaged in. It can be anything from writing software, designing a new electronic circuit, to fishing or gardening. It is known as “super focusing”. To a certain extent, nearly everyone can relax in this way, but it is not very good for those of us with certain brain disorders who do it for very extended periods.
In my younger days I could go for very long periods, sometimes days, without sleep, food, or a break. I was nearly 22 years old, 5′-10″ and 118 lbs., when I got drafted into the Navy in 1969. I was strong, but just skin and bones.
As I’ve gotten older, my long-duration stints have been cut down, but it has become something I now have to be very conscious of. My body isn’t what it was 40-50 years ago.
When I went through SERE training back in 1970 at Whidbey Island, WA, I was able to go for a week with very little sleep, minimal food, and then through about a day of constant harassment in less-than-comfortable surroundings. I was fortunate that my crazy brain let me be comfortable by super focusing, and knowing (in my mind) that these dudes couldn’t legally or physically harm me. They could literally rattle my cage, they could holler offensive propaganda … But, my crazy brain was relaxed.
For some of us, we can function for very long periods without breaks, food, or sleep if we are stimulated by what we are doing. Thus, that is the reason for stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. One of the things they do is keep us from going into these long-term stimulated states-of-mind that affect us in physical and social ways.
By not taking breaks, our bodies and brains eventually do begin to diminish and rot. We need to replenish with sleep and food.
I’m currently off my stimulant drugs because I was so uncomfortable when not doing 17 things at once. Over the winter they turned me into a true couch potato to again recover from another bought of “cognitive fatigue.”
So, now that I’m off the stimulants, I’ve taken the couch potatoes and planted them in the garden, along with a bunch more cold-hardy plants.