The U.S. Navy‘s Office of Naval Research has sponsored a research project that aims to identify new methods to protect special operations divers from unseen-oxygen toxicity.
The study is led by Blair Johnson, a University at Buffalo professor of exercise physiology, and focuses on the human sympathetic nervous system that works to dictate an individual’s response to a perceived risk, an attack or a survival threat, the Navy said Thursday.
“Recent evidence suggests that hormone levels critical to maintaining breathing and heart function drop sharply when someone is immersed underwater,” said William D’Angelo, manager of ONR’s Undersea Medicine Program.
Johnson and his team members have built a water-immersion tank at the University’s Center for Research and Education in Special Environments to simulate underwater conditions.
The research group puts acupuncture needle-like microelectrodes into a volunteer’s nerves in order to measure physiological impulses and document reactions to water temperature changes and oxygen intake as part of experiments.