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Neuroreport. 2016 Apr 13;27(6):367-73. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000537.

Short-term high-altitude pre-exposure improves neurobehavioral ability.

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Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.


This study aims to evaluate the effect of the duration of high-altitude (HA) pre-exposure on human neurobehavioral parameters including mood states and cognitive performance at HA. One hundred and eleven healthy individuals (ranging in age from 18 to 35 years) were recruited to participate in this study. They were divided into two groups: a 4-day short-term HA pre-exposure group (n=57) and a 3-month long-term HA pre-exposure group (n=54). All participants lived in the area at 400 m altitude above sea level before pre-exposure to HA. They were then transported to 3700 m plateau for either a 4-day or a 3-month HA pre-exposure, and finally delivered to 4400 m plateau. On the last day of pre-exposure at 3700 m and on the 10th day at 4400 m, neurobehavioral parameters of the participants in the two groups were evaluated. At the end of pre-exposure and on the 10th day of HA exposure, participants in the short-term group had significantly lower negative mood states, better cognitive performance with higher sensorimotor, attention, and psychomotor abilities, and less acute mountain sickness in comparison with the participants in the long-term pre-exposure group. Our field study with large samples showed that in comparison with 3-month long-term pre-exposure, 4-day short-term HA pre-exposure at 3700 m has a better effect in improving human neurobehavioral parameters including mood states and cognitive performance and reducing acute mountain sickness when exposed to a HA at 4400 m.

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