If you’re feeling a bit brain-fogged these days, you might not be wrong to blame it on the heat.
Several summers back, researchers in Boston studied young adults living in college dorm rooms during a heat wave. Some had central AC and slept at a cool 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Others slept in rooms without air-conditioning, where the temperature hovered around 80 degrees.
Each morning for nearly two weeks, the students took a few tests, administered on their cellphones. The people who slept in the hotter dorm rooms performed measurably worse on the tests.
The tests included a math test requiring simple addition and subtraction and a second test, the Stroop test, that jumbles colors and words. “So, if I show the word ‘red’ in the color blue, participants have to respond ‘blue,'” says study author Jose Guillermo Cedeño Laurent, an assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health. Read more about JPB Fellow Jose Cedeno’s research.