The Effect of an Induced Selective Increase in Head Temperature Upon Performance of a Simple Mental Task

Hancock, P.A. (1983). The effect of an induced selective increase in head temperature upon performance of a simple mental task. Human Factors, 25(4), 441-448.

Subjects performed a simple mental addition task under three counter-balanced conditions of a head temperature manipulation. In the heating condition, a temperature-controlled helmet induced a 1.01°C rise in head temperature as measured in the deep auditory meatus. A placebo condition consisted of helmet application but not activation, and the control condition monitored performance in the absence of the helmet. Results indicated that significantly more additions were accomplished under the heating compared with the two unvarying, non-heating conditions. This was not a trade of speed for accuracy, since the thermal manipulation exerted no significant effect on error rate. The work suggests that processing rate in a behavioral task is facilitated by the localized temperature increase.

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