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Seeing yourself during video meetings ’causes fatigue’

A new study of brain activity has found that viewing your own image on video conferencing calls leads to mental fatigue.

The research was conducted by the University of Galway and it concluded that people who took part in meetings on Zoom become more fatigued when they can see themselves on-screen.

The study also found that men and women become equally fatigued when viewing their own image, a finding which contradicts prior research which suggested women experience more fatigue from self-view video conferencing than men.

The research team conducted an experiment using electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring of 32 volunteers, 16 men and 16 women, all of whom participated in a live Zoom meeting, with the self-view mode both on and off at different times.

EEG non-invasively records spontaneous electrical activity in the brain using electrodes placed on the head and can detect the onset of mental fatigue.

The monitoring confirmed that fatigue levels were significantly greater during the times participants could view their own image.

Prior research, which largely relied on self-reported data gathered through surveys and interviews, had suggested that women experience more fatigue than men.

The University of Galway study, which measures fatigue at a neurophysiological level, questions whether gender differences actually exist for video conferencing fatigue.

The research was led by Professor Eoin Whelan, of the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics at the University.

“The use of video conferencing platforms exploded during the lockdown,” Professor Whelan said.

“They continue to be heavily used in work and education today and offer some advantages over in-person meetings.”

“But people often report feeling exhausted by video conference meetings. Our study shows that those feelings of fatigue you get during video calls are real, and seeing your own reflection makes it even more tiring.”

“Simply turning off the mirror image can help offset fatigue in virtual meetings,” he added.

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