Lower Neurocognitive Function in U-2 Pilots: Relationship to White Matter Hyperintensities
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH DEPT
Pagination or Media Count:
Determine whether United States Air Force USAF U-2 pilots U2Ps with occupational exposure to repeated hypobaria had lower neurocognitive performance compared to pilots without repeated hypobaric exposure and whether U2P neurocognitive performance correlated with white matter hyperintensity WMH burden. Methods We collected Multidimensional Aptitude Battery II MAB-II and MicroCog Assessment of Cognitive Functioning MicroCog neurocognitive data on USAF U2Ps with a history of repeated occupational exposure to hypobaria and compared these with control data collected from USAF pilots AFPs without repeated hypobaric exposure U2PsAFPs MAB-II 8783 Micro- Cog 9380. Additional comparisons were performed between U2Ps with high vs low WMH burden. Results U2Ps with repeated hypobaric exposure had significantly lower scores than control pilots on reasoningcalculation U2PsAFPs 99.4106.5, memory 105.5110.9, information processing accuracy 102.1105.8, and general cognitive functioning 103.5108.5. In addition, U2Ps with high whole-brain WMH count showed significantly lower scores on reasoningcalculation highlow 96.8104.1, memory 102.9110.2, general cognitive functioning 101.5107.2, and general cognitive proficiency 103.6108.8 than U2Ps with low WMH burden highlow WMH mean volume 0.2130.003 cm3 and mean count 14.20.4. Conclusion In these otherwise healthy, highly functioning individuals, pilots with occupational exposure to repeated hypobaria demonstrated lower neurocognitive performance, albeit demonstrable on only some tests, than pilots without repeated exposure. Furthermore, within the U2P population, higher WMH burden was associated with lower neurocognitive test performance. Hypobaric exposure may be a risk factor for subtle changes in neurocognition.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Medicine and Medical Research