03.10.2022

Supply of pure oxygen and glucose boosts cognitive performance

The brain is a body part like any other. However, it is an energy multiplier and requires between 20 and percent of total energy to make up about 2 percent of body weight. If you give the brain more fuel, i.E. Oxygen or sugar, its performance can also be increased.

Andrew scholey, a british neurobiologist, has long studied brain metabolism and its effects on cognitive performance. Metabolism involves breaking down glucose, the sugar in the blood, to produce the compound adenosine triphosphate (atp). Atp is able to store and release energy, and atp is used to power the brain like an engine with gasoline.

Since more blood flows to the areas where higher performance is achieved and therefore oxygen and glucose are transported, imaging techniques can also be used to see which areas of the brain are most active during which task. Positron emission tomography(pet) is used to mark oxygen or glucose with radioactive atoms that have an unstable nucleus and therefore release positrons. The marker travels with the blood to the most active sites. The gamma radiation resulting from the collision of positrons with electrons from other compounds can then be measured. Another technique is functional magnetic resonance imaging (fmri), which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to detect the properties of hamoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood.

That the brain is dependent on oxygen and glucose has, of course, long been known. Increased oxygen supply is held responsible for improved cognitive performance. Scholey had already conducted a series of studies in 1997 with an increased supply of pure oxygen and found that breathing oxygen for a period of 30 seconds strengthens short-term memory and the effect lasts for 24 hours. In a blind test, the subjects breathed either pure oxygen or only room air (with an oxygen content of 20 percent) for 30 seconds and then had to listen to series of 15 words each, which they had to repeat six minutes later. Those who had inhaled oxygen did twice as well in the process. In addition to improving short-term memory, attention and reaction times also improve.

In a new experiment, scholey administered 30 grams of glucose to a group of students, as reported by the guardian. The test consisted of subtracting 7 at a time from a randomly assigned starting number. Compared to the comparison group, the students supplied with glucose performed better. They were able to perform two to three more calculations per minute. In a new experiment with a one-minute supply of pure oxygen, the students were able to remember two to three more words than their counterparts in the comparison group. Similarly, the subjects who received oxygen at the most difficult level of a tetris game were "significantly" better than the others. On the other hand, no differences were found on easier levels.

The more difficult the tasks, it seems, the more oxygen or glucose is demanded. This is apparently true the other way around, as blood samples from people who are doing mentally difficult tasks show lower glucose levels, which is why scholey believes the brain is drawing so much from the rest of the body. And supplemental supply, if done right, improves cognitive performance. "Even the most esoteric brain obeys biological laws. Increasing the amount of energy available to the brain, simply by adding a little more fuel to the fire, can improve cognitive function to some degree."

Scholey and colleagues have observed that increased short-term oxygenation improves not only short-term memory and attention, but also long-term memory, verbal and numerical reasoning. While improvements in cognitive performance can be seen in older and younger people, the younger ones seem to respond more strongly. It comes however on the optimal dose, if perhaps soon school pupils or students expose themselves before examinations fast once to an oxygen shock, in order to obtain better achievements. And who then additionally takes glucose …

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