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Impact of Heat on the Brain

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a month ago

High temperatures can have a significant impact on our bodies, but recent research suggests that heat can also impair our cognitive abilities. A study conducted during a heat wave in Boston in 2016 found that young adults living in dorms without air conditioning performed significantly worse on cognitive tests compared to those in air-conditioned rooms. The students in the un-air-conditioned dorms experienced nighttime temperatures averaging 79 degrees, while those with A.C. enjoyed a more comfortable 71 degrees.

Jose Guillermo CedeƱo Laurent, the researcher behind the study, wanted to explore the effects of heat on cognitive performance, particularly during nighttime temperatures. The results indicated that even young, healthy college students were affected by high temperatures, demonstrating impaired cognitive abilities during the hottest days of the heat wave.

Furthermore, other studies in laboratory settings have shown similar findings, with cognitive test scores decreasing as room temperatures increase. A mere four-degree increase in temperature led to a 10 percent drop in performance across memory, reaction time, and executive functioning tests. These findings suggest that heat not only affects our physical health but also impacts our mental abilities, making us irritable, impulsive, and aggressive.

As a heat wave sweeps across the Northeast, South, and Midwest once again, it is crucial to recognize the potential cognitive effects of high temperatures. This research highlights the importance of staying cool and hydrated during hot weather to maintain optimal cognitive function. Older adults and individuals with chronic diseases are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of heat on both the body and the brain. By understanding the impact of heat on cognition, we can take proactive steps to mitigate its negative consequences and stay sharp even in the sweltering summer heat.

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