The Hypoxic Brain
The brain thrives on oxygen. High altitude poses a tax upon the oxygen supply. In spite of adaptations to a low partial pressure of oxygen, notably a resetting of cerebral blood flow, the paucity of oxygen in high places can make a lasting impression on our most precious organ. Among the physiological questions are: How does real-time hypoxia affect judgement and performance at high altitude? How might the hypoxia of high altitude cause long-lasting injury to the brain? How does hypoxia cause AMS, particularly its most common symptom, headache, and is AMS just early HACE? What tools can we apply to studying the human brain to begin to obtain answers to questions such as those above? In this section, we will explore three pieces of these various puzzles: 1) how brain cells get injured (Hossman); 2) what causes headache (Moskowitz); and 3) how we might better probe the mysteries of what’s going on inside the human brain at high altitude (Raichle).