Effects of Hyperbaric Nitrogen Narcosis on Cognitive Performance in Recreational air SCUBA Divers: An Auditory Event-related Brain Potentials Study.

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Karakaya H., Aksu S., Egi S. M., Aydin S., Uslu A.

Annals of work exposures and health, vol.65, pp.505-515, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 65
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/annweh/wxaa132
  • Journal Name: Annals of work exposures and health
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, PASCAL, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, Compendex, EMBASE, Environment Index, INSPEC, MEDLINE, Pollution Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.505-515
  • Keywords: event-related brain potentials, hyperbaric nitrogen narcosis, P3, reaction timessimulated air (40 msw=500 kPa) diving, INERT-GAS NARCOSIS, PARKINSONS-DISEASE, P300, IMPAIRMENT, DECOMPRESSION, COMPONENTS
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Background: The narcotic effect of hyperbaric nitrogen is most pronounced in air-breathing divers because it impairs diver’s cognitive and behavioral performance, and limits the depth of dive profiles. We aimed to investigate the cognitive effects of simulated (500 kPa) air environments in recreational SCUBA divers, revealed by auditory event-related potentials (AERPs). Methods: A total of 18 healthy volunteer recreational air SCUBA divers participated in the study. AERPs were recorded in pre-dive, deep-dive, and post-dive sessions. Results: False-positive score variables were found with significantly higher differences and longer reaction times of hits during deep-dive and post-dive than pre-dive sessions. Also, P3 amplitudes were significantly reduced and peak latencies were prolonged during both deep-dive and post-dive compared with pre-dive sessions. Conclusion: We observed that nitrogen narcosis at 500 kPa pressure in the dry hyperbaric chamber has a mild-to-moderate negative effect on the cognitive performance of recreational air SCUBA divers, which threatened the safety of diving. Although relatively decreased, this effect also continued in the post-dive sessions. These negative effects are especially important for divers engaged in open-sea diving. Our results show crucial implications for the kinds of control measures that can help to prevent nitrogen narcosis and diving accidents at depths up to 40 msw.