The effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function at altitude

Atkinson, Edward Thomas (2016) The effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function at altitude. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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Introduction: Travelling to altitude brings with it many stressors; one environmental stressor is the exposure to an hypoxic environment (less available oxygen). Previous research has found that hypoxic environments reduce cognitive performance, which is attributed to lack of energy production within the brain. One possible solution is the use of a creatine supplement to maintain energy metabolism within brain cells, thus reducing the impact of hypoxia on cognitive functions. This research project aims to determine whether creatine is able to aid cognition when hypoxic.
Method: The study used 17 participants, all of whom were University students. Their cognitive function was assessed using; The Stroop WordColour Test, Digit Span Forwards and Backwards Tests and Trail Making Tasks A and B. The tests were administered in both normoxic and hypoxic environments. The hypoxic environment consisted of an environmentally controllable chamber with a 12.7% oxygen gas mixture. Subsequently participants were asked to adhere to a 6 day supplementation protocol. Half the participants received 20g/day of creatine supplement; the remaining participants received the same dosage of a placebo (inulin). All participants then had their cognitive domains re-assessed using the same cognitive tests.
Findings: The hypoxic environment reduced the participant’s blood oxygen saturation levels by between 8 and 10, with increases in heart rate of 9.35%. The cognitive tests did not find any significant impairment in cognitive function between the normoxic and hypoxic environments in the Trail Making Tasks or the Digit Span tests. The Stroop Colour-Word Test did show impairment in cognitive function between the normoxic and hypoxic environments. These differences occurred in the number of errors made with 53.7% more errors made in the hypoxic environment. There was no difference in performance between the Creatine and Placebo groups post supplementation for any of the measures used.
Conclusion: Creatine supplementation did not alter participant’s cognitive function when acutely exposed to hypoxia. This finding may be due to the body’s natural responses to hypoxia being adequate to meet the demands of the environment. This finding may also be attributed to the insensitivity of the tests used, with no difference in cognition being measured in either the Digit Span or Trail Making tests.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BA (Hons) Adventure Education
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Departments > Adventure Education
Undergraduate Dissertations
Depositing User: Ann Jones
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2017 10:31
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2017 10:31

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