Impact of COVID-19 on Cognition – Neuroscience News

Impact of COVID-19 on Cognition – Neuroscience News

Summary: Patterns of cognitive impairment in people infected with Covid-19 are similar to those of sleep-deprived healthy people. Additionally, worse symptoms of cognitive impairment in coronavirus patients were directly related to more severe infections.

Source: University of Western Ontario

A new long-term study led by neuroscientists at Western University suggests that short-term symptoms from Covid-19, such as labored breathing, fever and dry cough, may be the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

Results, published by Cell Report MedicineReveals short- and potentially long-term cognitive impairment in people who have had COVID-19.

Through a robust data set collected by participants using the Cambridge Brain Sciences online scientific inquiry tool, lead investigators Adrian Owen and Connor Wilde discovered significant impairments in reasoning, thought speed and verbal abilities among patients with confirmed COVID-19, but no impairment. did not In memory functions.

“The pattern of cognitive impairment in these COVID-19 patients resembled that of healthy study participants who were sleep deprived,” said Wayne, professor of cognitive neuroscience and imaging at Western Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

In 2017, Owen and Wild conducted the world’s largest sleep study involving over 40,000 people using the same online scientific investigation tool.

For the COVID-19 brain study, Owen, Wilde, and colleagues at Western, University of Cambridge, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, and the University of Ottawa evaluated nearly 500 people about three months after a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19.

Participants’ COVID-19 experience ranged from “very mild” to “ventilating ICU.” Researchers have discovered that the severity of cognitive impairment is directly related to the severity of the underlying infection.

“The worse the Covid-19 symptoms were for the patient, the worse the cognitive impairments,” said Wilde, a research associate at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, who also found significant impairments in milder infections.

Credit: University of Western Ontario

Researchers recruited thousands of participants for the study; However, because there was very little testing for COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic (the study began in June 2020), they could not confirm who had contracted COVID-19 versus who thought they might have it. As a result, Owen and Wild chose to focus on 478 individuals who reported medically confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The study also found that the degree of cognitive impairment was not related to the time that had passed between COVID-19 infection and assessment, suggesting that it may be chronic.

It shows a brain and covid-19
Researchers have discovered that the severity of cognitive impairment is directly related to the severity of the underlying infection. Image is in public domain

“Disadvantages were not lower in individuals up to three months after infection, suggesting that these effects may not abate in the short term,” Wilde said.

Mental health effects

Participants in the COVID-19 brain study presented significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety, with 30 percent meeting clinical criteria for one or the other or both.

“These effects on mental health were not related to the severity of the original infection, nor were they related to cognitive impairment, suggesting that they may be the result of living through the pandemic rather than the result of the Covid-19 infection,” said Dr. Richard Swartz from the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.

The results of this study are an important first step in a much larger research program originating at Western, which includes researchers from the Western Institute for Neuroscience (WIN), BrainsCAN, the Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) facility, and study partners on campus. Cognitive impairment, disease progression and remission, and social disparities in prolonged covid.

About this knowledge and news about COVID-19 research

Author: Jeff Renaud
Source: University of Western Ontario
Contact: Jeff Renaud – University of Western Ontario
Image: Image is in public domain

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It shows smoke

Original Research: Access to all.
Dissecting the cognitive, physical and mental health sequelae of Covid-19” by Conor J. Wild et al. Cell Report Medicine


Dissecting the cognitive, physical and mental health sequelae of Covid-19


  • Survivors of COVID-19 exhibit cognitive differences in specific domains
  • Processing speed, verbal and reasoning are affected, but not memory function
  • Performance in affective domains is associated with physical but not mental health
  • These effects are observed in mild and hospitalized cases of COVID-19


As global COVID-19 cases exceed several million, many survivors face cognitive challenges and lingering symptoms.

However, important questions about the cognitive impact of COVID-19 remain unresolved. In this cross-sectional online study, 478 adult volunteers who reported a positive test for Covid-19 (mean = 30 days since most recent test) performed significantly worse than pre-pandemic norms on processing speed, reasoning, verbal cognitive measures. , and overall performance, but not short-term memory, suggests domain-specific deficits. Cognitive differences were observed even among participants who did not require hospitalization.

Factor analysis of health- and Covid-related questionnaires revealed two clusters of symptoms – one that varied mostly with physical symptoms and severity of illness, and one with mental health.

Cognitive performance is positively correlated with global measures that include physical symptoms, but not those that broadly describe mental health, suggesting that the subjective experience of “prolonged Covid” is related to physical symptoms and cognitive deficits, particularly executive dysfunction.

#Impact #COVID19 #Cognition #Neuroscience #News

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