Human Cerebral Function at High Altitude.
Final rept. 1 Nov 81-30 Sep 84,
WASHINGTON UNIV SEATTLE DEPT OF ANESTHESIOLOGY
Pagination or Media Count:
Between 1981 and 1984, fifty one mountaineers from five separate expeditions to Mount Everest were given a series of two neurological exams, the first immediately prior to their climb and the second shortly after their return. These expeditions afforded an opportunity to study 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 alterations in cognition and behavior indicative of hypoxic brain dysfunction. All but five subjects were males with ages from 24 to 54 years with an average of 18.1 years of education. The neuropsychological exams were administered to subjects at approximately three weeks before arrival at base camp and again at approximately two to three weeks after completion of the climb. In this young and highly educated group of subjects using supplemental oxygen to climb Mount Everest, some neurobehavioral effects were found after exposure to the hypoxia of extreme altitude. A mild deterioration in expression of verbal material was observed. A bilateral reduction in motor speed characterized by rapid muscle fatigue was also evident. One hypothesis is that cerebellar andor more cortex functions are negatively affected by prolonged exposure to hypoxia at altitude. There also appears to be some involvement of the temporal lobe, as indicated by the reduction in verbal ability. Keywords hypoxia cognition memory motor persistence.
- MILITARY FACILITIES
- HIGH ALTITUDE
- VERBAL BEHAVIOR
- CEREBRAL CORTEX
- Medicine and Medical Research
- Stress Physiology