Studies reveal cognitive alterations as a result of COVID-19

A Spanish study in progress on cognitive alterations in people who passed COVID-19 reveals the appearance of cognitive deficits, especially in attention and processing speed, executive function and episodic memory, according to several articles published in scientific journals.

One of the works by researchers from the Institute of Neurosciences of the San Carlos Clinical Hospital in Madrid, which appeared in Journal of Clinical Medicinestudies the relationship between fatigue and cognitive function in post-covid syndrome, according to a statement from the health center.

Fatigue is one of the “most frequent and disabling symptoms in this syndrome, having a physical and cognitive component. In this study, patients were evaluated using one of the most widely used fatigue scales in science (MFIS) and an extensive neuropsychological evaluation protocol,” he adds.

Using machine learning algorithms (machine learning) tried to predict the results of the assessment of fatigue with the data obtained from the neuropsychological evaluation, although the models were unable to reliably estimate the presence or absence of fatigue, including cognitive fatigue, or its severity.

“These findings are important to understand the characteristics of the cognitive deficits that are observed in the post-Covid syndrome. The results of our research support that fatigue, depression, anxiety and cognitive deficits probably have different mechanisms in the post-Covid syndrome, which is important for the approach and development of treatments for this disease”, explains researcher Jordi Matias-Guiu Antem.

In another study, published in Brain Sciences, personality traits were evaluated in people with postcovid syndrome. The researchers concluded that certain personality characteristics were associated with the development of anxiety and depression, as is the case with other chronic pathologies, but “not with cognitive deficits, fatigue or sleep quality.”

Study: Those infected with the original strain of the coronavirus had more and more persistent symptoms

In a third study, published in the journal Journal of Psychiatric Researchthe scientists examined patients who reported persistent symptoms for months after suffering from covid through a comprehensive cognitive evaluation, of which 74% were women with a mean age of 51 years.

Fatigue, depressive symptomatology, anxiety, sleep and olfactory function were evaluated, concluding that “no relationship was observed between depressive symptoms or anxiety with cognitive function”.

The observed cognitive deficits confirm that “SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with objective cognitive alterations” by means of a cognitive examination. Although the cognitive alterations “were usually of a mild or moderate magnitude”, the fact that it affects young people supposes “a high impact”, according to the research.

“Knowing the pattern of cognitive alterations in the post-covid syndrome is important, on the one hand, for the differential diagnosis with other pathologies; on the other hand, it is a first step to look for interventions that allow these deficits to be improved”, points out Matías-Guiu.

The study consists of an exhaustive evaluation of the patients that lasts three days, with a battery of tests lasting several hours provided by experts in neuropsychology and other computerized ones self-administered by the participants themselves.

In addition, the results obtained with magnetic resonance imaging and blood biomarkers are being correlated.

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