Health & Wellbeing

Simple oxygen treatment may boost our ability to re-learn motor skills

Simple oxygen treatment may boost our ability to re-learn motor skills
Research has found that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can improve motor learning
Research has found that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can improve motor learning
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Research has found that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can improve motor learning
Research has found that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can improve motor learning

A new study has found that brief treatment with 100% oxygen can substantially improve motor learning in young, healthy adults. It may have opened the door to using this easy-to-administer treatment with people who are re-learning motor skills they’ve lost due to age or illness.

People often need to re-learn daily functional motor movements – picking up a glass, walking, tying their shoes – because of aging or following neurological incidents such as stroke. The brain can learn and re-learn motor tasks, but that requires energy, and that, in turn, requires an essential component: oxygen.

Because the brain is so rich in nerve cells (neurons), it’s the most energy-demanding organ, requiring a continuous supply of oxygen and glucose. Although it makes up only 2% of the body’s mass, the brain consumes 20% to 30% of its energy at rest. It’s why a first-line pre-hospital treatment in trauma and head injury cases is to provide 100% oxygen. And previous studies have shown that brain function is affected by the level of oxygen supplied.

Aware of the importance of oxygen as it relates to brain function, researchers from the German University of Health and Sports in Berlin examined whether providing people with 100% oxygen affected their motor performance.

The researchers recruited 40 healthy participants with a mean age of 21 years and randomly assigned them to one of two groups. Half received 100% oxygen at 5 L/min, and the other half received ‘medical-grade air,’ which contains 21% oxygen, the same concentration that’s in the air we breathe.

Participants had to complete a simple visuomotor task, drawing lines with a stylus between different targets on a digital tablet. The task was designed to test how quickly they could integrate information sent from eye to hand, a crucial part of motor learning.

Both groups received oxygen via a nasal cannula only while they were learning how to undertake the task. After the task had been learned, the target and stylus were adjusted to see how effectively participants adapted; they were then realigned back to the original setting to see how they adapted to the realignment.

The researchers found that the participants who received oxygen learned faster and performed better, and the improvements carried on into later sessions where oxygen was not administered. They moved the stylus more accurately, and when the target and stylus were moved, they adapted to the adjustment quicker. Interestingly, when the stylus’ alignment was realigned to its original position, the 100% oxygen group made bigger mistakes, suggesting they’d integrated the previous alignment more thoroughly than the medical air group.

“The oxygen treatment led to substantially faster and about 30% better learning in a typical visuomotor adaptation task,” said Zheng Wang, lead author of the study. “We also demonstrate that the participants were able to consolidate these improvements after the termination of the oxygen treatment.”

The researchers note that their study was limited to observing behavioral aspects and did not examine what was happening in the brain as a result of the oxygen treatment. Future studies could investigate brain oxygenation levels, which would provide a greater understanding of the physiological mechanisms behind the improvements in learning.

The researchers plan to investigate the long-term effects of oxygen supplementation on learning and test it on other motor learning tasks. Based on the study’s findings, they say that their simple and easy-to-administer oxygen treatment could benefit those re-learning motor skills.

“Our future plan is to investigate whether this treatment can also improve motor recovery processes following brain trauma,” said Marc Dalecki, the study’s corresponding author. “Since it worked in the young healthy brain, we expect that the effects may even be larger in the neurologically impaired, more vulnerable brain.”

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Source: German University of Health and Sports via Scimex

Khoo Kian Kok
It is important to achieve a 99% oxygen saturation and this can be achieved by CPAP without the use of oxygen.
You can put on the CPAP and monitor your oxygen saturation at the same time.
Thank you for triggering your idea of using 100% oxygen.
There are also simple breath techniques to do the same...