Has someone tested how it is to play chess under the flu? (Perhaps online, as you don't want to infect the whole room.) I claim that with 40° fever, the only effect is that my brain processes speed up by a factor of whatnot (anyone care to apply the Arrhenius equation with typical values?). Of course headaches, bodyaches and shivering are a tad distracting, but I went to an important cup game with a sepsis fever, won epically and then got me some antibiotica. (Recommendation: Don't try this at home. I'm a complete wacko with a super immune system...)

Thus: Do brain processes really speed up under fever? (Death panic - this was tested with a drop tower - gives the illusion but doesn't work. Same methodology - speeding digits - could be done with fever, minus the drop.)

  • Is the claim that your calculation (speed) improves with a fever? For me it is definitely the opposite. :D
    – koedem
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 23:20
  • @koedem: Circumstantial claim - data too weak :-) (Yesterday with a really fat flu I wasn't able to solve a simple #2 chess problem. Speed isn't all, given that my brain is always already in overdrive mode...) Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 7:22

1 Answer 1


Your intuition is correct, according to biophysical models:

For instance, this paper states:

In this study, we focus on the influence of temperature on neuronal behavior including variations in firing rates as well as in firing patterns. Using a biophysical neuronal model we show that neurons subject to higher temperatures produce short duration spikes capable of recovering more quickly, passing their refractory period, and becoming ready for another spike. This allows the cell membrane to reach the threshold of firing for a faster generation of another action potential, making the neuron operate at a higher firing rate.

You should try playing lots of short matches against a computer opponent, and record your stats. Then when you feel better, you can try to beat them. Let us know how it goes.

  • 1
    Unfortunately, I never play computers (you can't psychoterror em :-). I have two games in the next days, though; as I already hinted, the fact that my brain is rather disorganized probably makes up for extra speed so wish me luck... Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 9:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.