‘Coincidentally, the pandemic has escalated in the UK amid the collection of very large-scale cognitive and mental health data as part of the BBC2 Horizon collaboration, the Great British Intelligence Test,’ the researcher said. Principal Adam Hampshire (@HampshireHub), Associate Professor in the Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Laboratory at Imperial College London.
“The test included a set of tasks designed to measure different dimensions of cognitive ability that had been designed to be applied in both citizen science and clinical research. A number of my colleagues contacted me in parallel to point out that this provided an opportunity to collect important data on how the pandemic and COVID-19 disease was affecting mental health and cognition. “
“I was thinking the same thing and wanted to help where possible, so I extended the study to include information on the COVID-19 disease and the impact of the pandemic on daily life more generally,” a said Hampshire.
For their study, Hampshire and his team analyzed data from 81,337 participants who completed the intelligence test between January and December 2020. Of the entire sample, 12,689 people reported having suffered from COVID-19. , with varying degrees of respiratory severity.
After controlling for factors such as age, gender, maneuverability, native language, level of education, and other variables, the researchers found that those who contracted COVID-19 tended to underachieve the intelligence test compared to those who had not contracted the virus. The greatest deficits were seen on tasks requiring reasoning, planning, and problem solving, which is consistent with “long reports of COVID, where ‘brain fog’, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty finding them. correct words are common, ”the researchers said.
Previous research has also revealed that a large proportion of COVID-19 survivors are affected by neuropsychiatric and cognitive complications.
“We have to be careful because it looks like the virus could be affecting our cognition. We do not fully understand how, why or for how long, but we urgently need to find out. In the meantime, don’t take unnecessary risks and get yourself vaccinated, ”Hampshire told PsyPost.
The level of cognitive underperformance was also associated with the level of disease severity, with those hospitalized on ventilators having the greatest deficits. The deficit observed for COVID-19 patients who had been put on a ventilator is equivalent to a 7 point drop in IQ. The deficit was even greater than the deficits observed in people who had already suffered a stroke and reported learning disabilities.
“I think it’s fair to say that those of us who have analyzed data like this are somewhat nervous about the decision to let the pandemic run its course in the UK,” Hampshire said.
Although a small subset of 275 participants completed the intelligence test before and after contracting COVID-19, the study mainly used cross-sectional methodology, limiting the ability to draw firm conclusions about the cause and the ‘effect. But the large and socio-economically diverse sample allowed researchers to control for a wide variety of potentially co-founding variables, including pre-existing conditions.
“The main caveat is that we don’t know what the mechanistic basis of the observed COVID-cognition association is. We also don’t know how long an impact on cognition might last. I am providing the assessment technology for use in a series of studies that now attempt to answer these questions, ”Hampshire said.
The study, “Cognitive Deficits in People who Recovered from COVID-19,” was authored by Adam Hampshire, William Trender, Samuel R. Chamberlain Amy E. Jolly, Jon E. Grant, Fiona Patrick, Ndaba Mazibuko, Steve CR Williams, Joseph M. Barnby, Peter Hellyer and Mitul A. Mehta.