Dirty air diminishes both body and brain

14 Apr 2023

We all know that polluted air can make it harder to breathe, but did you know that it also makes it harder to think? Even work?

According to a study conducted by UQ environmental economist and 2023 Westpac Research Fellow Dr Andrea La Nauze and co-author Associate Professor Edson Severnini from Carnegie Mellon University, exposure to air pollution particles impairs both our memory and our ability to solve problems and learn new tasks – all vital for a productive workplace.

The effects are greatest for people in their prime working age (20–49) and those of lower cognitive ability.

Dr La Nauze discovered this after analysing millions of Lumosity brain-training game results across 7 different functions – memory, verbal ability, attention, flexibility, maths ability, speed, and problem-solving – and examining whether outcomes were affected by where players lived and how much pollution was in the air at the time.

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