More than half of community-dwelling individuals sixty years and older express concern about declining cognitive abilities. The current study’s aim was to evaluate hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) effect on cognitive functions in healthy aging adults.
A randomized controlled clinical trial randomized 63 healthy adults (>64) either to HBOT(n=33) or control arms(n=30) for three months. Primary endpoint included the general cognitive function measured post intervention/control. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was evaluated by perfusion magnetic resonance imaging.
There was a significant group-by-time interaction in global cognitive function post-HBOT compared to control (p=0.0017). The most striking improvements were in attention (net effect size=0.745) and information processing speed (net effect size=0.788).
Voxel-based analysis showed significant cerebral blood flow increases in the HBOT group compared to the control group in the right superior medial frontal gyrus (BA10), right and left supplementary motor area (BA6), right middle frontal gyrus (BA6), left middle frontal gyrus (BA9), left superior frontal gyrus (BA8) and the right superior parietal gyrus (BA7).
In this study, HBOT was shown to induce cognitive enhancements in healthy aging adults via mechanisms involving regional changes in CBF. The main improvements include attention, information processing speed and executive functions, which normally decline with aging.