Coronavirus infection linked to mental decline

(ORDO NEWS) — A study of 84 thousand people showed that those who had been ill with COVID-19 may have impaired memory function, as well as deteriorate other intellectual abilities. An article describing the work was published by the electronic scientific library medRxiv.

“Our study has once again demonstrated that coronavirus infection has long-term consequences. British people who have had COVID-19 performed significantly worse on cognitive tests than their peers who were not sick. Moreover, the level of these differences was directly related to the severity of the illness.” – scientists write.

When the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus enters the human body, many symptoms appear – in particular, loss of smell and a deterioration in the ability to recognize the taste of food. Observations of patients in Europe show that almost all patients with COVID-19 experienced similar problems.

The reason for this may lie in the fact that the olfactory receptors in the nasal mucosa are used by the virus as a kind of “gate”. Through them, it can enter the human brain and spread through the nervous system. Therefore, scientists, who fear that the long-term effects of COVID-19 may affect brain tissue, are studying this process in detail.

Long term consequences

In a new study, British neurophysiologists and physicians led by a researcher at Imperial College London (UK) Adam Hampshire have found the first hints that long-term disruptions in the brain and consciousness of a person may occur due to coronavirus infection.

Scientists came to this conclusion after tracing changes in memory acuity and mental abilities in about 84 thousand Britons, who agreed to take several tests of intelligence online. A significant part of these volunteers either lay in hospitals with a severe form of COVID-19, or suffered a mild form of coronavirus infection.

The scientists compared the test results with the data of the Great British Intelligence Test, during which all residents of the country are tested for mental abilities. This allowed researchers to compare the intelligence and memory acuity of COVID-19 patients with typical test scores for their age and demographic groups.

It turned out that the British, who had suffered severe forms of coronavirus infection, were inferior in these indicators to about 65% of the rest of the population. In other categories of patients, intellectual abilities fell to a slightly lesser extent. As the researchers explain, the test results are equivalent to if these patients had aged by about 10 years.

The illness suffered especially strongly on the tests that are associated with solving problems on understanding the text and the meaning of words, and almost did not affect the perception of emotions, spatial memory and the ability to memorize various numbers. Scientists cannot yet say what this is connected with. However, they hope that follow-up and study of the brain function in people who have suffered severe COVID-19 will answer this question.

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