ERIC Number: EJ936955
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Sep
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Changing Patterns of Neuropsychological Functioning in Children Living at High Altitude above and below 4000 M: A Report from the Bolivian Children Living at Altitude (BoCLA) Study
Virues-Ortega, Javier; Bucks, Romola; Kirkham, Fenella J.; Baldeweg, Torsten; Baya-Botti, Ana; Hogan, Alexandra M.
Developmental Science, v14 n5 p1185-1193 Sep 2011
The brain is highly sensitive to environmental hypoxia. Little is known, however, about the neuropsychological effects of high altitude residence in the developing brain. We recently described only minor changes in processing speed in native Bolivian children and adolescents living at approximately 3700 m. However, evidence for loss of cerebral autoregulation above this altitude (4000 m) suggests a potential threshold of hypoxia severity over which neuropsychological functioning may be compromised. We conducted physiological and neuropsychological assessments in 62 Bolivian children and adolescents living at La Paz (-3700 m) and El Alto (-4100 m) in order to address this issue. Groups were equivalent in terms of age, gender, social class, schooling, parental education and genetic admixture. Apart from percentage of hemoglobin saturated with oxygen in arterial blood (%SpO[subscript 2]), participants did not differ in their basal cardiac and cerebrovascular performance as explored by heart rate, mean arterial pressure, end-tidal carbon dioxide, and cerebral blood flow velocity at the basilar, anterior, middle and posterior cerebral arteries. A comprehensive neuropsychological assessment was administered, including tests of executive functions, attention, memory and psychomotor performance. Participants living at extreme altitude showed lower levels of performance in all executive tests (Cohen effect size = -0.91), whereas all other domains remained unaffected by altitude of residence. These results are compatible with earlier physiological evidence of a transitional zone for cerebral autoregulation at an altitude of 4000 m. We now show that above this threshold, the developing brain is apparently increasingly vulnerable to neuropsychological deficit.
Descriptors: Environmental Influences, Metabolism, Social Class, Adolescents, Brain Hemisphere Functions, Neuropsychology, Geographic Regions, Foreign Countries, Children, Diagnostic Tests, Cognitive Processes, Neurological Impairments
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Bolivia