Our planet | Are we doing worse with more air pollution?

We know that air pollution can be harmful to health, but does it also have an effect on our cognitive performance? They discussed it… with chess players.

Researcher Stephen Conn At Maastricht University come from economics. He became interested in the question of the effect of air pollution on our cognition thanks to the student’s research. Because if there is a negative impact there, could that also have a negative impact on the entire economy?

To find out, they needed a setup in which performance could be easily measured and compared. This is how they ended up in multi-day chess events. A big advantage of such a tournament: you have several days and different levels of pollution that you can compare to each other, you can compare performance with a chess computer as a good baseline, there are people of equal levels facing each other, so you can do that too. Put them next to each other.

What they saw when they did: More air pollution means more mistakes and worse mistakes. In some cases, the chance of errors even increased by 26 percent! Read more about the research here: Indoor air quality and strategic decision making.

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Megan Vasquez

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