Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Nov;140(1):123-6.
Oxygen and cognitive performance: the temporal relationship between hyperoxia and enhanced memory.
Oxygen administration coinciding with word presentation enhances word recall in humans, suggesting that elevated levels of circulating blood oxygen may be available to neural memory consolidation processes. This double-blind experiment examined the relationship between blood oxygen levels and cognitive performance when oxygen was inspired for 2 min at different times relative to a simple word recall task, forward digit span and backward digit span. Transient hyperoxia, measured by haemoglobin-bound oxygen, was evident following oxygen inspiration. Neither forward nor backward digit span was affected by oxygen administration. Word recall (12 min following word presentation) was enhanced when oxygen was administered 5 min prior to, immediately before or immediately following word presentation.
These data suggest that oxygen administration can selectively enhance aspects of cognitive performance and support a hypothesis whereby supplemental blood oxygen is sequestered by neural mechanisms involved in memory consolidation.
Human Cognitive Neuroscience unit at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England
Past research has shown that the brain is an energy-demanding organ. The brain is incapable of storing significant amounts of glucose and requires blood flow to steady its supply. As mental strain increases, so too does the brain’s demand for energy in the form of oxygen and glucose.
The levels of glucose and oxygen were measured while people were doing mental tasks and found both levels fell.
Test subjects played the computer game Tetris. It was found when the test subjects played the game at beginner levels, doses of oxygen and glucose did not help their scores. But as the players reached more challenging levels, the test subjects showed significant improvement after sucking oxygen and drinking a sweet, lemon-flavored glucose drink.