In a study of 33 commercial abalone divers from the Port Lincoln area of South Australia nervous system function was examined using a battery of neurobehavioural tests. Their performance was compared with that of non-diver controls matched for age, sex, education level, job type, language abilities, and cigarette and alcohol consumption. Abalone divers showed significantly poorer vision, learning, and short term memory performance and increased tremor relative to their controls. The reaction time of abalone divers, however, was as fast as or significantly faster than that of controls but their error rates were much higher, indicating that abalone divers were sacrificing speed for accuracy. Despite their apparent risk taking approach to these tests, the performance of abalone divers suggests some impairment of nervous system function.
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