Hypoxia-induced lowered executive function depends on arterial oxygen desaturation
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Although it has been traditionally thought that decreasing SpO2 with ascent to high altitudes not only induces acute mountain sickness but also can decrease executive function, the relationship between decreased SpO2 levels and hypoxia-induced lowered executive function is still unclear. Here we aimed to clarify whether hypoxia-induced lowered executive function was associated with arterial oxygen desaturation, using 21 participants performing the color–word Stroop task under normoxic and three hypoxic conditions (FIO2 = 0.165, 0.135, 0.105; corresponding to altitudes of 2000, 3500, and 5000 m, respectively). Stroop interference significantly increased under severe hypoxic condition (FIO2 = 0.105) compared with the other conditions. Moreover, there was a negative correlation between Stroop interference and SpO2. In conclusion, acute exposure to severe hypoxic condition decreased executive function and this negative effect was associated with decreased SpO2. We initially implicated an arterial oxygen desaturation as a potential physiological factor resulting in hypoxia-induced lowered executive function.
KeywordsNormobaric hypoxia Cognitive impairment Stroop task Percutaneous arterial oxygen saturation
GO and HS designed the study; GO, YK, KS, and TF collected the data; GO, KH, KS, TS, and HS performed the analysis; GO and HS wrote the manuscript.
This work was funded by the Special Funds for Education and Research of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) entitled “Global Initiative for Human High Performance (HHP) Research Project (1111501004)”, Program for Advancing Strategic International Networks to Accelerate the Circulation of Talented Researchers of the Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) entitled “Global Initiative for Sports Neuroscience (GISN): for development of exercise prescription enhancing cognitive function (HFH27016)” and KAKENHI Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas entitled “Next generation exercise program for developing motivation, body and mind performance (16H06405)” to H.S., and KAKENHI Grants-in-Aid for JSPS research Fellow (15J00782) to G.O.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest regarding this study.
All procedures and protocols performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards by the Physiological Society of Japan and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments and were approved by the Institutional Ethical Committee of University of Tsukuba. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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