Background: Cognitive impairment is common in people travelling to high altitude. Oxiracetam and electrical stimulation of cerebellar fastigial nucleus may have beneficial impacts. This study was to investigate the effects of preconditioning with Oxiracetam or fastigial nucleus stimulation (FNS) on cognitive decline following the ascension to high altitude.
Methods: The study was conducted on 60 male military voluntary members who were divided into control group, Oxiracetam group, and fastigial nucleus stimulation group. Transcranial doppler sonography, auditory evoked potential, electroencephalogram (EEG), and cognitive assessments were performed.
Results: People could still suffer cognitive dysfunction at 4,000 m high altitude despite that they have lived at 1,800 m altitude for several years. The 4,000 m altitude environment also prolonged P300 and N200 latencies. Both Oxiracetam and FNS improved cognitive function, reduced the prolonged latencies of Event Related Potentials (P300 and N200), decreased the average velocity of brain arteries, and enhanced EEG power spectral entropy at 4,000 m altitude.
Conclusions: Neurophysiological evidences suggest the underlying mechanism of cognitive impairments. Both Oxiracetam and FNS can reduce cognitive decline post arrival at high altitude. They could be a potential pretreatment method for cognitive dysfunction resulted from high altitude.
Keywords: cognitive impairment; event related potential; fastigial nucleus stimulation; high altitude; oxiracetam.