Exposure to Hypobaric-Hypoxia & Its Effect on Cognition Functioning

Research Paper Title

The objective assessment of the effects on cognition functioning among military personnel exposed to hypobaric-hypoxia: A pilot fMRI study.

Background

To identify regions of the brain affected during cognitive working memory during tasks to assess attention, planning and decision making among military aviation personnel who have chronic intermittent exposure to high altitude environment.

Methods

A case-control study was conducted in the Universiti Putra Malaysia among eight military personnel, four of whom had chronic intermittent exposure to high altitude training.

They were divided into two groups, chronic intermittent exposure group (CE) (n=4) and a control group (n=4).

They underwent a task-based functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) that utilised spatial working memory task to objectively evaluate the neural activation in response to the Tower of London paradigm.

Each correct answer was given a score of one and the maximum achievable score was 100%.

Results

A consecutive dichotomised group of CE (4/8) and control (4/8) of age-matched military aviation personnel with a mean age of 37.23±5.52 years; showed significant activation in the right middle frontal gyrus (MFG).

This in turn was positively correlated with response accuracy.

A significant difference in the response accuracy was noted among both the groups at p<0.05.

Conclusions

At the minimum results of power analysis of this preliminary fMRI study, our group of aviation personnel who had chronic intermittent exposure to hypobaric hypoxic environment, did not have any significant decrease in cognitive function namely attention, decision-making and problem solving compared to controls during a working memory task.

Reference

Nisha, S.N., Fikri, A.S.F., Aida, A.R., Salasiah, M., Hamed, S., Rohit, T., Farina, A.R.A., Loh, J.L.L., Mazlyfarina, M. & Subapriya, S. (2020) The objective assessment of the effects on cognition functioning among military personnel exposed to hypobaric-hypoxia: A pilot fMRI study. The Medical Journal of Malaysia. 75(1), pp.62-67.

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