Wearing a face mask negatively affected cognition

(ORDO NEWS) — The study found that more than 8,000 players who wore a mask during chess games were less intelligent than those who didn’t. It is assumed that cognitive decline is not limited to playing chess.

The use of masks during the Covid-19 pandemic has become a key requirement in many countries. Meanwhile, little is known about how masks affect cognition.

Dr. David Smerdon from the University of Queensland (Australia) decided to learn more about this problem using data on chess games.

This game, as you know, requires the skills of predicting, remembering, therefore it is widely used in psychology, neuroscience and other sciences to measure changes in cognitive abilities.

Smerdon analyzed almost three million chess moves made by 8,531 players (aged five to 98) from 18 countries during the pandemic.

The data showed that the masks reduced cognitive performance scores by about a third.

According to the author of the article, this is due to the psychological irritation that wearing a mask can cause, and not to physiological mechanisms.

This assumption indirectly proves the fact that the decrease in mental abilities occurred only in situations where the player was required to solve a complex cognitive task with a high load on working memory.

In addition, the negative effect weakened after four hours of play, that is, it was temporary.

Therefore, Smurdon suggests that the impact of wearing a mask may depend on the type of task, the duration of its solution, and the type of work memory load.

“This is something to keep in mind for professions related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics and other industries that require a high level of working memory.

Or, for example, when passing an exam, ”summed up the researcher.


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