Effects of high concentration oxygen administration on n-back task performance and physiological signals

Physiol Meas. 2007 Apr;28(4):389-96. doi: 10.1088/0967-3334/28/4/005. Epub 2007 Mar 7.


This study investigated the effect of 40% oxygen administration on n-back task performance, blood oxygen saturation and heart rate. Five male (25.8 +/- 1.3 years) and five female (23.0 +/- 1.0 years) college students were selected as the subjects for this study. The experiment consisted of two runs: one was an n-back task with normal air (21% oxygen) administered and the other was with hyperoxic air (40% oxygen) administered. The experimental sequence in each run consisted of Rest1 (1 min), 0-back task (1 min), 2-back task (2 min) and Rest2 (4 min). Blood oxygen saturation and heart rate were measured throughout the four phases. The results of the n-back behavioural analysis reveal that accuracy rates were enhanced with 40% oxygen administration compared to 21% oxygen. When 40% oxygen was supplied, blood oxygen saturation was increased and heart rate was decreased compared to that with 21% oxygen administration. It is suggested that 40% oxygen can stimulate brain activation by increasing actual blood oxygen concentration in the process of cognitive performance, and hyperoxia makes heart rate decrease. This result supports the hypothesis that 40% oxygen administration would lead to increases in n-back task performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage*
  • Oxygen / blood*
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*


  • Oxygen