According to the findings of a recent study conducted by experts at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, physical exercise may have a detrimental impact on the executive brain activity that occurs in surroundings with low oxygen levels.
When exercising in low-oxygen environments, executive control-related neural activity, as well as cognitive performance, are both negatively impacted by low blood oxygen levels, according to the findings of a study that was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports and was subjected to rigorous academic review.
The ability to effectively control and coordinate other brain functions, such as memory, emotional responses, and motion, in order to facilitate more complex behaviors, such as learning, trying to plan, discernment, and decision-making, is a requirement for executive functions. Executive functions are essential for sophisticated decision-making and reasoning.
According to the findings of the research, keeping enough oxygen levels in the organism is critical for preserving cognitive function both during exercise and in situations with low levels of oxygen.
What options do we have?
Nevertheless, the researchers demonstrated that it is possible to counteract decreases in neural function in brain areas important for executive control-related cognitive tasks during exercise in low-oxygen situations by maintaining correct oxygen levels.
During periods of activity in which blood oxygen levels were maintained, the Stroop effect was shown to be less strong. When comparing the neutral trial to the incongruent trial, there was less of a drop in activity in the area of the brain of interest, which is the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.
When there is a scarcity of oxygen, the brain will give higher priority to those functions that are responsible for keeping us alive rather than those that are responsible for “newer,” less essential functions. This will cause the brain to emphasize those operations that sustain life over those that perform “newer,” less essential functions.
Consequently, while engaging in physical actions that necessitate judgment and critical thinking, which are conducted in low-oxygen environments, the impacts of cognitive fatigue should be taken into consideration. These functionalities may be the matter of life and death in certain activities, such as mountain climbing.