A cold nose an indication of mental overload?

Experts are developing a new method for determining mental stress

Researchers have now found that checking body temperature indicates whether people are suffering from excessive mental stress. For example, if people have a cold nose, this could indicate that those affected are mentally overwhelmed.

In their study, the scientists from the Bioengineering Research Group at the University of Nottingham found that body temperature can indicate a mental overload. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "Human Factors".

Study used thermal imaging cameras to determine body temperature

The next time you have a cold nose, you shouldn't dismiss this as a lapalie. It could be that the cold nose is an important indicator of excessive mental stress. In their study, the experts examined the faces of 14 volunteers with the help of thermal imaging cameras, while they had to perform highly mentally demanding tasks. The researchers found that the temperature of the nose of people who felt overwhelmed dropped by about one degree Celsius.

Cold nose can indicate overworked brain

The scientists explained that the cold nose can be a sign of when our brain is overloaded. In this case, the blood is redirected to better support the neurons. Extremities, such as the nose, are affected first because the body needs more energy to supply blood. "We expected mental demands in a subject to lead to physiological changes, but the direct correlation between workload and skin temperature was very impressive," said Alastair Ritchie of the University of Nottingham in a press release. "We didn't expect the face to get colder. With this precise method of estimating workload, we can develop measures that support those affected during periods of maximum stress, ”adds the expert.

Thermal cameras could be used to monitor pilots in the future

For example, the new technology could be used in the future to monitor the body temperature of employees from a distance. This way, the scientists could quickly and easily determine whether those affected are mentally overworked without these employees being disturbed in their work. For example, the experts suggest that thermal cameras be used in aircraft cockpits to check the mental pressure on the pilots. The team is already working with Airbus on such a project.

Thermal imaging cameras could increase flight safety

If pilots suffer from increased stress or fatigue, this can have serious effects. This problem has occurred repeatedly in recent years. Most people will be particularly reminded of an accident by the airline Germanwings in 2015. This was caused by a pilot who had already been treated for suicidal thoughts. The person concerned was declared disabled by his doctor for his work, but he had not passed this information on to his employer. The development of an advanced system to monitor pilot mental stress would be an important step in a sector where safety is paramount.

Determine workload with non-invasive methods

Specialists have been trying to find measures to measure workload for several years without having to interrupt the worker. Meanwhile, the experts have developed a much better understanding of what physical changes are associated with workload, how they manifest as physiological symptoms, and how these symptoms can be translated into measurable parameters. The goal is to determine the workload using non-invasive methods. Of all the approaches, facial thermography is the least intrusive and has proven to be an excellent method, the authors explain. (as)

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