Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

Darrell Stolle

Commitee Members

David Erickson, Martin Horejsi, Charles Palmer, William K. Spath


anaerobic, cognition, cycling, exercise, work of breathing


University of Montana


A comprehensive occupational respiratory protection program is mandated by federal law to protect workers exposed to breathing hazardous atmospheres. Those wearing respirators and/or performing high-intensity physical work may endure physiological and/or psychological impairment from cardiorespiratory stress, respirator anxiety, and working in hazardous conditions. The effects of multiple stressors may impede or override physiological and psychological adaptation mechanisms, causing cognitive deterioration or disruption when clarity and speed of thought and action are crucial. This study examined transient cognitive differences due to activity, respirator, and gender wear through examination of archival data collected during two studies that evaluated the physiological effects of activity and respirator wear. Scores and response times from the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), a brief verbally administered assessment of cognitive function, were collected and archived in anticipation of developing this line of research. The sample of 18 active healthy college students (9 males and 9 females) performed the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT), a cycle ergometry protocol requiring subjects to pedal as fast as possible for 30 seconds against a prescribed resistance. Subjects performed four discrete treatments—three immediately post-WAnT and one at rest. The MMSE was administered immediately after performance of the WAnT wearing no respirator (N), wearing a half face air-purifying respirator (P), and wearing a half face air-supplying respirator (S); and with the subject seated wearing no respirator (R). For each MMSE administration, the total and 11 sectional scores and response times were recorded for the required questions and tasks. A Minitab two-way ANOVA was performed on the total and sectional MMSE scores and times. Where treatment proved significant, Bonferroni 95% Confidence Intervals were calculated to identify important treatment comparisons. Statistically reliable differences (p < .05) in total and select sectional scores and times relative to activity level, respirator usage, gender, and individual subject response variance were identified. Scores were assumed to represent thought clarity and times to represent response speed. It was concluded that cognitive function regarding thought clarity and response speed differs selectively from changes in activity level without respirator wear, respirator usage after maximal exertion, gender, and individual subject response variance.



© Copyright 2010 Sally Martinsen Bardsley