Shift Work May Affect Working Memory and Processing Speed
Shift work is associated with poor working memory and slower mental processing speed. This is the outcome of a meta-analysis of pooled data published online March 8 in Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Because of its cognitive effects, shift work can increase the risk of injuries and mistakes in the workplace. Therefore, protective measures such as regular breaks and vigilance checks should be encouraged, suggest author Thomas Vlasak, PhD, a researcher at the Sigmund Freud University in Linz, Austria, and colleagues.
@reshma The results of the different studies showed that shift workers performed significantly worse, compared with other workers, in five of the six outcomes investigated. A major, statistically significant effect was found for impulse control and situational reaction, whereas the effects for working speed, working memory, awareness, and the ability to filter out unimportant visual information were statistically significant, but smaller. Task switching was the only outcome that saw no negative effect.