Cognitive Change

Clinical Trial – Oxygen as a Limiting Factor for Performing Multitasking

The Brain uses 20% of the total oxygen supply consumed by the entire body. Even though, less
than 10% of the brain is active at every given time, the brain utilizes almost all the oxygen
delivered. In order to perform different tasks or more than one task (multi-tasking), the
oxygen supply is shifted from one brain region to another, via modulation of blood perfusion.

The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) environment,
with increased oxygen supply to the brain, will enable better performance of complex and/or
multiple activities.

Methods: a prospective, double blind randomized control, cross over trial including healthy
volunteers. Participants were asked to perform a cognitive task, a motor task and a
simultaneous cognitive-motor task (multi-tasking). Participants were randomized to perform
the tasks at 2 environments: (a) normobaric air (1ATA 21% oxygen) (b) HBO (2ATA 100% oxygen).
Two weeks later participants were crossed to the alternative environment. Blinding of the
normobaric environment was achieved in the same chamber with masks on while hyperbaric
sensation was simulated by increasing pressure in the first minute and gradually decreasing
to normobaric environment prior to tasks performance.