Burnout is associated with changes in error and feedback processing.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Burnout is a pattern of complaints in individuals with emotionally demanding jobs that is often seen as a precursor of depression. One often reported symptom of burnout is cognitive decline. To analyze cognitive control and to differentiate between subclinical burnout and mild to moderate depression a double-blinded study was conducted that investigates changes in the processing of performance errors and feedback in a task switching paradigm. Fifty-one of 76 employees from emotionally demanding jobs showed a sufficient number of errors to be included in the analysis. The sample was subdivided into groups with low (EE-) and high (EE+) emotional exhaustion and no (DE-) and mild to moderate depression (DE+). The behavioral data did not significantly differ between the groups. In contrast, in the EE+ group, the error negativity (Ne/ERN) was enhanced while the error positivity (Pe) did not differ between the EE+ and EE- groups. After negative feedback the feedback-related negativity (FRN) was enhanced, while the subsequent positivity (FRP) was reduced in EE+ relative to EE-. None of these effects were observed in the DE+ vs. DE-. These results suggest an upregulation of error and negative feedback processing, while the later processing of negative feedback was attenuated in employees with subclinical burnout but not in mild to moderate depression.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Gajewski, PD; Boden, S; Freude, G; Potter, GG; Falkenstein, M

Published Date

  • October 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 129 /

Start / End Page

  • 349 - 358

PubMed ID

  • 28928096

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6246

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.09.009


  • eng

Conference Location

  • Netherlands