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Int J Aviat Psychol. 1998;8(4):319-34.

Elevation-dependent symptom, mood, and performance changes produced by exposure to hypobaric hypoxia.

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  • 1Military Performance and Neuroscience Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts, USA.


Altitude exposures above 3,000 m produce changes in symptoms, moods, and cognitive/motor performance of unacclimatized individuals and should produce graded effects on these parameters as elevation and duration are increased. This study examined effects on these parameters as a function of altitude level and duration of exposure by administering standardized tests from 1 to 3 times to 23 males in an altitude chamber during 4.5-hour exposures to 3 levels of hypobaric hypoxia: 500 m, 4,200 m, and 4,700 m. Exposure to altitude significantly affected symptoms, moods, and performance in an elevation-dependent fashion. Adverse changes increased with higher altitudes (all measures were affected at 4,700 m, whereas only some were at 4,200 m) and usually with longer durations. Therefore, specific aspects of symptoms, moods, and performance are significantly degraded after only a few hours of exposure to hypobaric hypoxia, and the severity of the effects dramatically increases when testing is conducted at 4,700 m compared to 4,200 m.

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