KDKA – Pittsburgh
BOSTON, Mass. (CBS Local) – With many states dealing with record-high temperatures and massive heat waves, many people are probably sick of summer already.
Researchers at Harvard University have discovered that a person’s brain works 13 percent slower when it has to operate in extreme heat. According to their report in PLOS Medicine, scientists studied 44 college students living in Boston during a 2016 heat wave.
That July heat wave was reportedly one of the hottest in the city’s history. 22 of the students lived in a brick-based buildings with no air-conditioning. The other 22 undergrads were living in air-conditioned dorms during the 12-day experiment.
The team from Harvard’s T.H. Chan school of Public Health found that the students in non-air-conditioned buildings performed over 13 percent worse on both math and memory tests than their air-conditioned classmates.
“Most of the research on the health effects of heat has been done in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, creating the perception that the general population is not at risk from heat waves,” lead author Jose Guillermo Cedeño-Laurent said in a press release.
“Knowing what the risks are across different populations is critical considering that in many cities… the number of heat waves is projected to increase due to climate change.”
Scientists added that the buildings the students lived in made the effect of heat on their brains even worse. “These buildings have a hard time shedding heat during hotter summer days created by the changing climate, giving rise to indoor heat waves,” study co-author Joseph Allen added.