Dehydration and cognitive performance

J Am Coll Nutr. 2007 Oct;26(5 Suppl):549S-554S. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2007.10719657.


Human neuropsychology investigates brain-behavior relationships, using objective tools (neurological tests) to tie the biological and behavior aspects together. The use of neuropsychological assessment tools in assessing potential effects of dehydration is a natural progression of the scientific pursuit to understand the physical and mental ramifications of dehydration. It has long been known that dehydration negatively affects physical performance. Examining the effects of hydration status on cognitive function is a relatively new area of research, resulting in part from our increased understanding of hydration's impact on physical performance and advances in the discipline of cognitive neuropsychology. The available research in this area, albeit sparse, indicates that decrements in physical, visuomotor, psychomotor, and cognitive performance can occur when 2% or more of body weight is lost due to water restriction, heat, and/or physical exertion. Additional research is needed, especially studies designed to reduce, if not remove, the limitations of studies conducted to date.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Dehydration / complications*
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis