Brain Freeze! How Does Temperature Affect Your Mind?

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Updated on Mar 15, 2013

Grade Level: 6th to 8th; Type: Social Science

This experiment will evaluate if the temperature of the environment that you work in affects your ability to perform mental tasks.

  • Does temperature affect mental performance?

Some types of environments may be better at enhancing mental focus and performance. In this experiment, students will evaluate whether or not temperature has an effect on the speed and accuracy of test subjects that have been asked to perform several mental tasks.

  • One small room
  • Thermometer
  • Air conditioning
  • Heater
  • Approximately 20 test subjects
  • Several mental tasks (eg, medium level Sudoku puzzle, 50 piece puzzle, multiplication test, etc)
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Notebook for analyzing results

  1. Put together several mental tests to give to your test subjects in each environment. Make sure that each task that you put together can be easily altered between environments. You want the test to look different to your test subjects each time they take it (try not to alter the difficulty of each test when you revise them).
  2. Cool a room to approximately 65°F.
  3. Record the time it takes for 10 of your test subjects to perform each mental task in the cold room. Evaluate test subjects individually so that you can get an accurate time for each participant.
  4. Warm a room to approximately 85°F.
  5. Repeat step 3 in the warm room with your other 10 test subjects.
  6. The next day, repeat steps 2 and 3. This time the group that worked in the warm room the day before should be tested in the cold room.
  7. Each time you switch rooms, remember to slightly alter your mental tasks so that they appear “new” to your test subjects.
  8. Repeat steps 4 and 5. The group that worked in the cold room the day before should now be tested in the warm room.
  9. Analyze your results. Compare test subjects’ performances in the warm and cold environments. In which environment did your test subjects perform each mental test fastest? What percentage of test subjects performed their tasks fastest in the cold environment? Are the tasks completed accurately? Does a warm environment seem to enhance or slow the speed at which the tasks are completed?

Terms/Concepts: work environment, what affects work efficiency?

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