Effects of heat stress and dehydration on cognitive function in elite female field hockey players

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Background: It has previously been suggested that heat exposure and hypohydration have negative effects on cognitive performance, which may impact upon sporting performance. The aim of the present study was to examine the independent effects of heat stress and hypohydration on cognitive performance in elite female field hockey players. Methods: Eight unacclimatised elite field hockey players (age: 22 ± 3 y; height: 1.68 ± 0.05 m; body mass: 63.1 ± 6.0 kg) completed a cognitive test battery before and after 50 min of field hockey specific exercise on a treadmill in four experimental trials; two in hot conditions (33.3 ± 0.1 °C), and two in moderate (16.0 ± 3.0 °C), both with and without ad libitum water intake. Results: On the visual search test, participants were faster overall in the heat (1941 vs. 2104 ms, p = 0.001). Response times were quicker in the heat on the Sternberg paradigm (463 vs. 473 ms, p = 0.024) and accuracy was improved (by 1.9%, p = 0.004). There was no effect of hydration status on any of the markers of cognitive function. Conclusions: Overall, the findings suggest that in elite field hockey players exposure to heat enhances response times and/or accuracy on a battery of cognitive function tests. However, hypohydration does not appear to affect cognitive performance in elite field hockey players.




MacLeod, H., Cooper, S., Bandelow, S., Malcolm, R., & Sunderland, C. (2018). Effects of heat stress and dehydration on cognitive function in elite female field hockey players. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-018-0101-9

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