INTRODUCTION: The neurocognitive effects of acute hypobaric hypoxia are still largely unknown. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that executive control, an important component of cognition, is especially vulnerable to hypoxia. METHODS: Subjects participated in a simulated hypobaric chamber flight to 5500 m. Four auditory tasks were presented before, during, and after hypoxia: 1) Voice, and 2) Name variant of the Stroop task (both measuring conflict resolution); 3) go/ no-go task (GNG; measuring inhibition); and 4) two-choice reaction time task (CRT; which is a noninhibitory control task). RESULTS: The Stroop effect increased during hypoxia: in the Voice Stroop it increased from 49.4 to 83.6 ms for reaction time and from 4.1 to 12.3% for accuracy; in the Name Stroop from 43.5 to 82.9 ms for reaction time (accuracy remained unchanged). Accuracy declined from 82.3 to 75.0% in CRT, and from 85.8 to 77.5% (averaged over stimulus types) in the GNG task. Importantly, accuracy decreased similarly to go and no-go stimuli in the GNG task, revealing unaffected inhibition. DISCUSSION: The findings suggest that tasks requiring conflict resolution are more likely to be impaired than tasks requiring inhibition of response. Furthermore, our results provide evidence for the distinct nature of inhibitory control functions.
- Executive function
- Go/no-go task
- Two-choice reaction time task
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health