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Aviat Space Environ Med. 2005 Jan;76(1):28-33.

Cognitive and emotional processing at high altitude.

Author information

1
Institute of Physiology, University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Exposure to altitude reduces oxygen supply to the central nervous system and may cause a variety of neuropsychological impairments. We investigated the relationship between certain cognitive functions and cardiovascular and respiratory variables during acute hypobaric hypoxia.

METHODS:

There were three groups of seven men who were each exposed to a 2-h altitude profile (AP) involving 30 min at each of the following simulated altitudes (m): AP1, 450-1500-3000; AP2, 450-1500-4500; Control 450-650-650. The neuropsychological tests included word fluency and three word-association tasks tapping processes of cognitive flexibility and emotion regulation. A lateralized tachistoscopic lexical decision task with high and low emotional target words was also administered to assess possible shifts in hemispheric superiorities for positive and negative affect.

RESULTS:

No significant differences in word fluency, word association, or lateralized lexical decision performances were found, despite a significant oxygen desaturation and a drop in diastolic BP at 4500 m, indicating the beginning of central hypoxia in terms of a functional impairment of the vasomotor center.

CONCLUSION:

During acute exposure to hypobaric hypoxia, selected cognitive and affective functions mediated by the frontal lobe were preserved. Functional hemispheric asymmetries for emotional processes remained unchanged.

PMID:
15672983
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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