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Extreme Heat Can Reduce Mental Performance Of College Students

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 - 11:48am
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When heat waves roll in, attention turns to the physical health of children and the elderly. But a new study reveals that extreme heat can also reduce the mental performance of college students.

The Harvard University study compared performance on cognitive tests during a Boston heat wave between college students with air conditioning and those without.

Students without AC, who on average endured temperatures around 9 degrees hotter, suffered mental declines in five areas, including drops of more than 13 percent in accuracy and reaction time.

The gap widened further after the heat wave passed, as buildings designed for cold winters trapped heat, keeping temperatures high in non-AC dorms.

The findings, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, suggest that educational achievement, and workplace productivity and safety, could benefit from improved climate control.

Education Science