The Effects of Noise on Human Cognitive Performance and Thermal Perception under Different Air Temperatures

Shiva Sepehri, Mohsen Aliabadi, Rostam Golmohammadi, Mohammad Babamiri


Background: Environmental factors are interrelated, and human comfort is a complex state that is under the influence of all these factors perceived by a person. We aimed to investigate the effects of noise on human cognitive performance and thermal perception under different air temperatures.

Study design: An experimental study.

Methods: This study was conducted on 24 volunteers (12 males and 12 females) aged 18-30 yr old. All the experiments were carried out in a climate chamber located in Hamadan University of Medical Sciences in 2018. The subjects were exposed to ten different conditions set by a combination of three different air temperatures (14, 18, and 22 °C), three different noise levels (55, 65 and 75 dBA), and one irrelevant speech level in the climate chamber. The n-back, CPT, and PVT tests were employed to evaluate different aspects of cognitive performance. Thermal comfort and thermal sensation were measured with subjective questionnaires.

Results: With increasing noise under different air temperatures, working memory (P=0.001), sustained attention (P=0.001), and simple reaction time (P=0.001) were significantly disturbed. The combined effects of noise and low air temperature on working memory, sustained attention, and reaction time were higher than the effect of each of them individually. As compared with air temperature, noise has a larger effect on working memory, sustained attention, and reaction time in the test configurations.

Conclusion: The cognitive performance effects from noise has one veto power over these effects from low air temperature. Speech sound had more negative effects on subjects’ cognitive functions than the typical noise caused by office equipment. The subjective thermal perceptions were also influenced by noise at lower air temperatures.



Psychomotor performance; Noise; Cold temperature; Thermal perception

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