Turn off your camera on video calls to reduce mental fatigue, study suggests

Fatigue related to apps like Zoom or Teams is real ‘and seeing your own reflection makes it even more tiring’, says lead researcher at University of Galway

Viewing your own image on video conferencing calls adds to mental fatigue, according to a study of brain activity.

Academics at the University of Galway found that people who take part in meetings on apps like Zoom or Teams become more fatigued when they can see themselves on screen.

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.

The research also found that men and women become equally fatigued when viewing their own image.

The finding contradicts prior research, which largely relied on self reported data gathered through surveys and interviews, suggesting women experience more fatigue from self-view in video conferencing than men.

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

“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 said.

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times