Hypohydration and acute thermal stress affect mood state but not cognition or dynamic postural balance

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 Apr;113(4):1027-34. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2506-6. Epub 2012 Oct 12.


Equivocal findings have been reported in the few studies that examined the impact of ambient temperature (T a) and hypohydration on cognition and dynamic balance. The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of acute exposure to a range of ambient temperatures (T(a) 10-40 °C) in euhydration (EUH) and hypohydration (HYP) states on cognition, mood and dynamic balance. Thirty-two men (age 22 ± 4 years, height 1.80 ± 0.05 m, body mass 85.4 ± 10.8 kg) were grouped into four matched cohorts (n = 8), and tested in one of the four T(a) (10, 20, 30, 40 °C) when EUH and HYP (-4 % body mass via exercise-heat exposure). Cognition was assessed using psychomotor vigilance, 4-choice reaction time, matching to sample, and grammatical reasoning. Mood was evaluated by profile of mood states and dynamic postural balance was tested using a Biodex Balance System. Thermal sensation (TS), core (T core) and skin temperature (T(sk)) were obtained throughout testing. Volunteers lost -4.1 ± 0.4 % body mass during HYP. T sk and TS increased with increasing T(a), with no effect of hydration. Cognitive performance was not altered by HYP or thermal stress. Total mood disturbance (TMD), fatigue, confusion, anger, and depression increased during HYP at all T(a). Dynamic balance was unaffected by HYP, but 10 °C exposure impaired balance compared to all other T(a). Despite an increase in TMD during HYP, cognitive function was maintained in all testing environments, demonstrating cognitive resiliency in response to body fluid deficits. Dynamic postural stability at 10 °C appeared to be hampered by low-grade shivering, but was otherwise maintained during HYP and thermal stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Cognition*
  • Cold-Shock Response
  • Dehydration / physiopathology*
  • Dehydration / psychology*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / etiology
  • Heat Stress Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Heat Stress Disorders / psychology*
  • Heat-Shock Response
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced*
  • Hypothermia, Induced*
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Military Medicine
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Physical Examination
  • Postural Balance*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Thermosensing
  • Time Factors
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance
  • Young Adult