The level of mental workload related to the index of difficulty of the motor task and handedness


  • Natália Lelis-Torres
  • Herbert Ugrinowitsch
  • Maicon Rodrigues Albuquerque
  • Tércio Apolinário-Souza
  • Guilherme Menezes Lage



Motor control, Difficulty of the task, Fitts’ law, Laterality, Grooved Pegboard test, Manual task


BACKGROUND: Manual movements are affected by the index of difficulty of the task and handedness. High index of difficulty and execution with the non-dominant hand can increase the mental workload.

AIM: This study investigated the relation between the level of mental workload, the index of difficulty of the task, and handedness in manual movements.

METHOD: Twenty-three right-handed male students (24.1 ± 4.3 years) participated in this study. The index of difficulty in the Grooved Pegboard task was manipulated by placing and removing the pegs and manipulation of handedness was made via right and left hand execution. Two mental workload metrics were obtained by electroencephalographic analysis: EEG-cognitive index, and EEG-workload index.

RESULTS: The index of difficulty analyses indicated lower movement time when removing the pegs (low index of difficulty) compared to placing the pegs (high index of difficulty). EEG-workload index was higher when placing the pegs than removing. The handedness analyses indicated lower movement time with the right hand compared to the left hand. However, similar levels of mental workload were found.

CONCLUSION: Results suggest higher mental effort when index of difficulty is increased, but not when the left non-dominant hand is performing the task.


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How to Cite

Lelis-Torres, N., Ugrinowitsch, H., Albuquerque, M. R., Apolinário-Souza, T., & Lage, G. M. (2017). The level of mental workload related to the index of difficulty of the motor task and handedness. Brazilian Journal of Motor Behavior, 11(1), 21–31.



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