wAs the world learns to live with COVID-19, scientists still have many unanswered questions about how the infection affects the body and brain — not just when people get sick, but in the long term as well.
In a study presented at annual meeting From the Radiological Society of North America, researchers report brain changes among people who have recovered from COVID-19.
The scientists took MRI scans of the brains of 46 people who had contracted COVID-19 within the past six months, and compared them to scans of 30 people who were never infected. They found that most people who recovered from COVID-19 had changes in microcirculation in the frontal lobe and brainstem regions, which are involved in higher-level cognitive skills such as language expression and voluntary movements. Compared to the control group, this group showed a decrease in blood circulation in these microvessels.
It is not yet clear how this can be translated into daily activities; The researchers did not follow up with detailed analyzes of cognitive function in the two groups. But Bharat Biswal, a professor of biomedical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology and co-author of the research, says the team is exploring how these changes might affect other functions. Some of the participants, for example, had high blood pressure or other chronic conditions that may also play a role in how their brains are affected by COVID-19, and scientists are studying whether people with such underlying health conditions showed different levels. of brain changes compared to those without these conditions.
The study builds on the previous one The job Biswal and his colleagues documented the structural changes in the brain that distinguished people who were hospitalized and recovered from COVID-19 from those who did not become infected. That study found changes in the brain’s limbic system and hippocampus, which oversee emotional and behavioral activities, as well as memory.
Taken together, Biswal says, the findings “provide an initial idea of where to look and what parameters to look at” for scientists studying the long-term effects of COVID. He and his team hope to track the study volunteers for a longer period of time to document how persistent the changes are.
“COVID-19 has multidimensional effects on the body,” he says, including the brain. And while scientists have not yet investigated people who become reinfected, Multiple episodes with COVID-19 may also cause cumulative changes on different organs in the body. Biswal says he is “a little concerned” about how the infection might reappear in the brain and other organs. There are still more studies to be done to understand how COVID-19 affects the brain and body.”
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