Human Cerebral Function at High Altitude.
Annual rept. no. 1, 1 Nov 81-1 Aug 83,
WASHINGTON UNIV SEATTLE DEPT OF ANESTHESIOLOGY
Pagination or Media Count:
The American Medical Research Expedition to Everest completed a series of physiologic and psychological studies on mountaineers ascending to the summit of Mount Everest. This expedition afforded the unique opportunity to observe the consequences of extreme sustained hypoxia on human cerebral function. The goal was to ascertain whether exposure of healthy acclimatized individuals to extreme high altitude results in subsequent long term alternations in cognition or behavior indicative of hypoxic brain dysfunctions. Subjects were males between 25 and 52 years fifteen subjects had M.D.s or Ph. Ds. Neuro-psychological tests were administrated to subjects prior to the expedition, during the ascent, upon descent to Kathmandu, and again one year after completion of the climb. In this group of subjects using supplemental oxygen to climb Mount Everest, transient and long-lasting neurobehavioral effects were found after exposure to the extreme hypoxemia of high altitude. Transient effects included a mild deterioration in learning, memory, and expression of verbal material. These impairments were present within three days of descent into Kathmandu but not one year later. A bilateral reduction in motor speed characterized by rapid muscle fatigue persisted on year after completion of the study. One hypothesis is that cerebellar functions are negatively affected by prolonged exposure to hypoxia at altitude. Alternately, motor cortex functions may be impaired. Keywords Cognition Memory Motor persistence.
- *MOTOR REACTIONS
- HIGH ALTITUDE
- CEREBRAL CORTEX
- Stress Physiology