Study: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can enhance cognition in healthy older adults

January 5, 2021

A study conducted in Israel has found that a new hyperbaric oxygen therapy protocol can improve cognitive function in older adults—by enhancing attentiveness, information processing speed, executive function, and global cognitive function, Psych Central reports.

Indeed, all of the areas of mental function improved by hyperbaric oxygen therapy typically decline with age, according to researchers at the Shamir Medical Center, and the Sackler School of Medicine and Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University in Israel.

The researchers report there was also a “significant correlation between the cognitive changes and improved cerebral blood flow in specific brain locations.”

The randomized controlled clinical trial included 63 healthy adults at an average age of 64. According to the researchers, 33 underwent HBOT for three months, while the remaining 30 were the control group, Psych Central says.

Cognitive function was measured by a standardized comprehensive battery of computerized cognitive assessments before and after the three months. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was evaluated by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique for brain perfusion.

“Age-related cognitive and functional decline has become a significant concern in the Western world. Major research efforts around the world are focused on improving the cognitive performance of the so-called ‘normal’ aging population,” said co-author Dr. Shai Efrati, head of the Sagol Center for Hyperbaric Medicine and Research, and Head of Research & Development at Shamir Medical Center. “In our study, for the first time in humans, we have found an effective and safe medical intervention that can address this unwanted consequence of our age-related deterioration.”

“In the past, we have demonstrated HBOT’s potential to improve/treat brain injuries such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and anoxic brain injury due to sustained lack of oxygen supply by increasing brain blood flow and metabolism,” added co-author Dr. Amir Hadanny of the Sagol Center. “This landmark research could have a far-reaching impact on the way we view the aging process and the ability to treat its symptoms.”

The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Aging.

Research contact: @PsychCentral

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