Cognitive Effects of Hypoxia Exposure Persist Following Restoration of Blood Oxygen Saturation
Research Information Bulletin
NAVAL AEROSPACE MEDICAL RESEARCH LAB PENSACOLA FL
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Hypoxia is a major physiological threat to Navy pilots and aircrew. The insidious nature of onset and the significant variability in individual symptoms make recognition and corrective action difficult. The time required for individuals to return to normal cognitive function following a moderate exposure is unclear. Results of two recent experiments suggest that restoration of executive function and multitasking performance lags significantly behind the restoration of blood oxygen saturation to normal levels. The observed slow recovery of these higher-order cognitive processes following a hypoxia exposure may pose a risk to the aviation community. Because full recovery was not observed in either experiment, the actual time required for cognitive ability to return to pre-exposure levels remains unknown. Without further investigation, specific guidelines can not be given regarding the amount of time required for pilots and flight crew to fully regain cognitive ability following a moderate hypoxic exposure.
- Medicine and Medical Research