Subjective and behavioural responses to nitrogen narcosis and alcohol.

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Subjective and behavioural responses to nitrogen narcosis and alcohol.

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Title: Subjective and behavioural responses to nitrogen narcosis and alcohol.
Author: Hobbs, M
Abstract: RATIONALE: There is a widespread assumption that nitrogen narcosis is comparable to alcohol intoxication, a similarity that may extend to patterns of tolerance. It has been suggested this indicates evidence of a shared biological mechanism but there is a paucity of experimental data to support these claims. OBJECTIVE: The current study aimed to test this assumption by comparing subjective (ratings) and behavioural (Digit Letter Substitution Test) responses to nitrogen narcosis and alcohol. METHODS: Experiment 1 compared responses to narcosis in 39 participants posited to differ in tolerance based on prior exposure to alcohol (heavy/light drinkers) and narcosis (novice/experienced divers). Experiment 2 compared responses to narcosis and after a 0.5 g/kg dose of alcohol in 23 participants. In both experiments narcosis was measured at depths between 40 and 45m in the ocean off Port Vila, Vanuatu. RESULTS: Experiment 1 measured a significant decrement in the behavioural measure underwater, compared to baseline but failed to find any differential responding to narcosis between drinker or diving experience groups. In contrast, Experiment 2 found positive correlations between alcohol and narcosis on both subjective and behavioural measures, indicating those affected to a greater degree by alcohol were also affected to a greater degree by narcosis. CONCLUSIONS: These results support the contention of a relationship between nitrogen narcosis and alcohol, although the role of diving and drinking history, if any, remains obscure.
Description: Undersea & Hyperbaric Medicine : Journal of the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, Inc.
URI: http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/8101
Date: 2008

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