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The Hidden Cost of Face Masks: Study Shows Negative Impact on Cognitive Performance - SciTechDaily

The Hidden Cost of Face Masks: Study Shows Negative Impact on Cognitive Performance - SciTechDaily

The Hidden Cost of Face Masks: Study Shows Negative Impact on Cognitive Performance - SciTechDaily
Jan 22, 2023 55 secs

Dr. David Smerdon, from UQ’s School of Economics, conducted a study of nearly 3 million chess moves made by over 8,000 players in 18 countries, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decrease in performance was due to the annoyance caused by the masks rather than a physiological mechanism, but people adapted to the distraction over time,” Dr. Smerdon said.

“The data showed masks were more likely to decrease performance in situations where there was a demanding mental task with a high working memory load.

This is something to keep in mind for occupations in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as well as other professions that demand a high level of working memory such as language interpreters, performers, waiters, and teachers.”

“Chess can provide us with that insight as it requires calculation, memory, problem-solving, and pattern recognition and has been used extensively in psychology, neuroscience, and economics to measure changes in cognitive performance.”

“For example, education policymakers may need to bear in mind the disruptive effects of masks when designing exam conditions to address concerns about student health and fairness,” he said.

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