Rutgers: “Brain Fog” Study To Examine Mental Effects Of COVID

Source: New Jersey Patch

Just because someone recovered from COVID-19, it doesn’t mean the virus’s presence is gone. A new Rutgers University study will examine the effects of COVID-19 on memory loss, dementia and “brain fog.”

The research team will assess each person’s cognition, mood and sleep patterns to identify potential causes of brain fog and compare their brain MRI findings with biochemical signatures of neuroinflammation. They will also analyze immune cells in the brain from people who have had COVID-19 to determine whether the cells can be used to predict the persistence of post-COVID cognitive impairment.

“Brain fog” is not a medical or scientific term, but one used by people to describe how they feel when their thinking becomes sluggish or fuzzy.

About half of the individuals at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Post-COVID Recovery Program had issues with brain fog after their bout with COVID.

Of those screened for neurocognitive issues, symptoms have included memory loss, brain fog, new confusion, headaches, numbness and multiple neurological symptoms.

“The vaccine may have helped somewhat with the brain fog, but what I see from a clinical standpoint is much more persistent short-term memory loss,” said Sabiha Hussain, who leads the program.

The Rutgers study is led by William T. Hu, the chief of cognitive neurology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and an expert on aging. Hu has been studying cognitive impairments patients face after mild to moderate COVID-19 bouts.

“We have found neuroinflammation is a common theme across many brain disorders, but not all neuroinflammation is the same,” he said. “We developed a roadmap to study the protein and cellular changes involved in worsening – as well as alleviating – symptoms of brain fog.

The project will also examine whether COVID-19 infection accelerates the clinical manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease in people age 50 and above, who otherwise wouldn’t have demonstrated symptoms until their 60s and 70s.

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