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Even Mild COVID Is Hard on the Brain

Posted by SLS on March 14, 2023, at 6:40:19


"Even Mild COVID Is Hard on the Brain"


Even Mild COVID Is Hard on the Brain

Megan Brooks

March 06, 2023
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Editor's note: Find the latest long COVID news and guidance in Medscape's Long COVID Resource Center.

Even mild cases of COVID-19 can affect the function and structure of the brain, early research suggests.

Dr Clarissa Yasuda

"Our results suggest a severe pattern of changes in how the brain communicates as well as its structure, mainly in people with anxiety and depression with long COVID syndrome, which affects so many people," study investigator Clarissa Yasuda, MD, PhD, from University of Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil, said in a news release.

"The magnitude of these changes suggests that they could lead to problems with memory and thinking skills, so we need to be exploring holistic treatments even for people mildly affected by COVID-19," Yasuda added.

The study was released early, ahead of presentation at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 2023 Annual Meeting in April.
Brain Shrinkage

Some studies have shown a high prevalence of symptoms of anxiety and depression in COVID-19 survivors, but few have investigated the associated cerebral changes, Yasuda told Medscape Medical News.

The study included 254 adults (177 women, 77 men, median age 41 years) who had mild COVID-19 a median of 82 days earlier. A total of 102 had symptoms of both anxiety and depression and 152 had no such symptoms.

On brain imaging, those with COVID-19 and anxiety and depression had atrophy in the limbic area of the brain, which plays a role in memory and emotional processing.

No shrinkage in this area was evident in people who had COVID-19 without anxiety and depression or in a healthy control group of individuals without COVID-19.

The researchers also observed a "severe" pattern of abnormal cerebral functional connectivity in those with COVID-19 and anxiety and depression.

In this functional connectivity analysis, individuals with COVID-19 and anxiety and depression had widespread functional changes in each of the 12 networks assessed, while those with COVID-19 but without symptoms of anxiety and depression showed changes in only 5 networks.
Mechanisms Unclear

"Unfortunately, the underpinning mechanisms associated with brain changes and neuropsychiatric dysfunction after COVID-19 infection are unclear," Yasuda told Medscape Medical News.

Some see things as they are and ask why.
I dream of things that never were and ask why not.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.




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