We Knew It! Study Shows Excessive Heat Can Lead to Decreased Cognitive Function
Feels like your brain cells are fried? It’s not in your imagination.
Good news y’all! The results of a recent study finally confirm what we’ve always suspected: the heat could be to blame for a foggy brain.
The Harvard University research, published in PLOS Medicine this week, found that college students who lived in dorms without air conditioning during a heat wave did worse on cognitive assessments than students who had air conditioning.
The study involved 44 students and was conducted over 12 consecutive days in the summer of 2016. According to a press release, the first five days consisted of seasonable temperatures, followed by a five-day-long heat wave, and then a two-day cooldown (the period after outdoor temperatures decreased but indoor temperatures stayed high). Each day, right after waking up, the students took two cognition tests on their smartphones. The first required them to quickly identify the color of displayed words, while the second involved basic arithmetic questions.
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During the heat wave, students in the buildings without AC performed worse on the tests than students in the air-conditioned dormitories—most notably when it came to their reaction times and memory. During the heat wave, students in buildings without AC experienced 13.4% longer reaction times on color-word tests, and 13.3% lower arithmetic test scores. “Combined, these data show that students in rooms with AC were not just faster in their responses, but also more accurate,” the release noted.
Want to stay sharp this summer? Research has shown that we get the best sleep when a room is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. So crank up that AC (or break out an orphan dress sock) to avoid embarrassing brain blunders.