Scientific article
Open access

Negative neurofunctional effects of frequency, depth and environment in recreational scuba diving: the Geneva "memory dive" study

Published inBritish journal of sports medicine, vol. 38, no. 2, p. 108-114
Publication date2004

OBJECTIVES: To explore relationships between scuba diving activity, brain, and behaviour, and more specifically between global cerebral blood flow (CBF) or cognitive performance and total, annual, or last 6 months' frequencies, for standard dives or dives performed below 40 m, in cold water or warm sea geographical environments. METHODS: A prospective cohort study was used to examine divers from diving clubs around Lac Léman and Geneva University Hospital. The subjects were 215 healthy recreational divers (diving with self-contained underwater breathing apparatus). Main outcome measures were: measurement of global CBF by (133)Xe SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography); psychometric and neuropsychological tests to assess perceptual-motor abilities, spatial discrimination, attentional resources, executive functioning, and memory; evaluation of scuba diving activity by questionnaire focusing on number and maximum depth of dives and geographical site of the diving activity (cold water v warm water); and body composition analyses (BMI). RESULTS: (1) A negative influence of depth of dives on CBF and its combined effect with BMI and age was found. (2) A specific diving environment (more than 80% of dives in lakes) had a negative effect on CBF. (3) Depth and number of dives had a negative influence on cognitive performance (speed, flexibility and inhibition processing in attentional tasks). (4) A negative effect of a specific diving environment on cognitive performance (flexibility and inhibition components) was found. CONCLUSIONS: Scuba diving may have long-term negative neurofunctional effects when performed in extreme conditions, namely cold water, with more than 100 dives per year, and maximal depth below 40 m.

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Brain/radionuclide imaging
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Cognition Disorders/etiology
  • Cold Temperature/adverse effects
  • Diving/adverse effects/physiology/psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychometrics
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon
Citation (ISO format)
SLOSMAN, D. O. et al. Negative neurofunctional effects of frequency, depth and environment in recreational scuba diving: the Geneva ‘memory dive’ study. In: British journal of sports medicine, 2004, vol. 38, n° 2, p. 108–114. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2002.003434
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0306-3674

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