The study, published last week in The Lancette, examined people who passed the Great British Intelligence Test (GBIT). The test measures different types of human mental abilities. Of the 81,337 people who took the test between January and December 2020, 12,689 reported contracting COVID-19.
Using data from the 81,337 applicants, the researchers first determined the average test scores for people of different genders, ethnicities, mother tongues, countries of residence, professional status and income. . They then compared those averages to the actual scores of people who had and had not contracted COVID-19. Among the applicants, 12,689 had contracted COVID-19.
The comparison found that those who contracted COVID-19 performed worse on different parts of the GBIT compared to those who did not contract the virus. People who contracted COVID-19 performed worse on testing tasks involving reasoning, problem solving, spatial planning and target detection, CTV News reported.
People who contracted COVID-19 also had poorer results if they had more severe viral symptoms. For example, those who had been placed on a ventilator experienced the greatest cognitive deficits, comparable to a seven-point drop in their IQ (intelligence quotient), according to the study.
“These findings are consistent with long-standing reports of COVID, where ‘brain fog’, problems with concentration and difficulty finding the correct words are common,” the researchers wrote. “Recovery from a COVID-19 infection may be associated with particularly pronounced problems in aspects of higher cognitive or ‘executive’ function. “
The researchers also said that such cognitive deficits can persist long after a person stops feeling other symptoms of COVID-19. Deficits could last for weeks or months after a person initially contracted the virus.
However, the researchers added that more research involving brain imaging data is needed. Only then will researchers be able to correctly determine whether COVID-19 is causing neurobiological or psychological changes that affect intelligence.
The study’s research team involved academics from Imperial College London, King’s College, and the universities of Cambridge, Southampton and Chicago.
COVID-19 has been discovered to have potential long-term symptoms. Some of these symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, headache, loss of smell or taste, fever, and dizziness when standing, the Mayo Clinic said.
Imaging tests have also revealed that COVID-19 can damage the hearts, lungs and brains of survivors. Damage to the heart muscle can cause chest pain, increased heart rate, and other heart problems later in life. The virus scarring of tiny air sacs in the lungs can cause breathing difficulties or other breathing problems.
COVID-19 can also cause strokes, seizures and an increased likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that causes temporary paralysis, the clinic reported.
A person who has exhibited severe symptoms can develop problems sleeping, depression or anxiety, especially if they have been under great stress during their illness, the clinic said.
News week contacted the Mayo Clinic for comment.