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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 44-49

A study of neurocognitive and executive function of divers

1 Consultant Psychiatrist, Sheth K C Parikh General Hospital and KLS Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 HOD and Consultant, Department of Psychiatry, INHS Asvini, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Nikita D Shah
603-604 Chandan Building, Irla Railway Colony, Plot No 8, Irla Society Road, Vile Parle (West), Mumbai - 400 056, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmms.jmms_68_17

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Background: Extant literature suggests that due to a variety of factors, diving causes long-term neurological sequelae. Effects on cognitive functions have been assessed in previous studies; however, the presence and extent of resultant cognitive impairment is still unclear. This study was done to test the presence of cognitive deficits in divers. Further, the deficits were correlated with the years and depth of diving. Materials and Methods: In this comparative study carried out at a tertiary care hospital, 46 healthy divers were exposed to neuropsychological tests to evaluate their attention, concentration, visuospatial processing, memory, and executive functions. Their performance was compared to that of 46 healthy-matched nondiving sailors. Their performance was also correlated to the years and depth of diving. Results: The study found that the divers performed worse than nondivers in the following indices in the psychometric tests; Stroop Word Component (P = 0.035), Trail A (P = 0.045), number of categories completed in Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (P = 0.007); and in delayed recall (P = 0.007) and visual recognition (P = 0.031) in the Memory Scale. It is inferred that the cognitive domains of visuospatial processing, executive function, and verbal and visual memory are affected. Increase in depth of diving showed worse performance in digit backward (P = 0.032) and verbal memory (P = 0.048) that points to impaired attention, concentration, working memory, and verbal memory. Conclusion: The study suggests that residual cognitive effects are seen in divers. Worsening of the cognitive function is correlated with depth of dives but not total years of diving. The study recommends that further research in the field of cognitive effects of diving is warranted.

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