Fatigue is an important but not yet well-understood symptom in many patient groups. The symptom of fatigue is modulated by both changes in perception and by changes in (physical and mental) performance. Thus, fatigue comprises dysregulation of homeostasis in various organs, including muscle, brain and the cardiovascular system as is seen in various patient-groups and aging.

Fatigue can be studied as a patient-reported symptom but can also be used to induce homeostatic dysregulation in healthy individuals to reveal patterns of cortical activation which are difficult to study in patients. To study mechanisms underlying fatigue we assess (changes in)

  • brain activation by functional magnetic resonance imaging (blood-deoxygenated level detection and network analysis)
  • excitability of motoneurons
  • muscle properties by recording force, electromyography, muscle activation

We investigate effects of fatigue, or induce fatigue during both physical and cognitive tasks in healthy controls and various patients groups, including multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain or spinal cord injury, Parkinson’s disease.
Fatigue is used to reveal

  • inter and intra-hemispheric interactions in healthy controls and patients
  • age-related changes in cognitive and motor performance

More insight into fatigue is essential to shape understanding, management and ultimately treatment to help both patients and their caregivers to manage their illness.

Participants at the research group Motor control and fatigue

Fatigue – a large impact for an individual and society

The symptom of fatigue has a strong negative effect on quality of life for an individual and is one of the main contributors to unemployment. To be able to monitor, modify and recover from fatigue is of vital importance. Large groups of individuals suffer from fatigue and knowledge on the pathophysiology, consequences and systemic and cellular processes are of importance to  shape future management and ultimately treatment.

Research Interests

  • We characterize fatigue and fatigability measures in different patient groups to identify brain activation network areas, cortical output and muscle properties shared between patients with different pathophysiological conditions. Gaining more knowledge on shared characteristics will help to identify (dysregulated) pathways involved in fatigue and fatigability,

  • Long-pulse transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS) activates preferably sensory axons. In this study we investigate pathways, cortical network and activation after TENS and exercise. Both TENS and exercise are rehabilitation strategies which have the potential to successfully increase walking performance and reduce fatigue but how TENS and exercise affect health and disease is not known.

  • Exercising positively affects muscle and brain function, and acute exertion affects cortical activation and cognitive performance. Identification of these cortical areas, pathways and homeostatic function is essential to understand the potential for exercise-related rehabilitation for disease.


Small profile photo of C.A.T. Zijdewind
Inge Zijdewind Associate professor

Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
Internal Zip code FB43
Antonius Deusinglaan, 1
9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands

Visiting address
Department of Biomedical Sciences of Cells and Systems
University Medical Center Groningen
The section Molecular Neurobiology, Building 3215, 8th floor
Antonius Deusinglaan, 1
9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands