Memory problems seen months after mild COVID-19 infections, researchers say
People who experienced mild COVID-19 infections demonstrated attention and memory issues, but those problems appeared to be only temporary, according to a new study published on Wednesday.
Researchers from Oxford University studied 136 people, comprised of both individuals who had contracted COVID-19 and those who had not. When it came to looking at factors such as sleep patterns, fatigue and anxiety, the participants included in the study who previously had COVID-19 did not differ significantly from their control group counterparts.
All of them were asked to perform 12 different cognitive tasks, including ones on object memory, spatial span and motor control.
The findings of the study showed that “COVID-19 survivors showed a significant reduction in their ability to sustain attention on a demanding task up to 9 months after COVID-19 infection, along with mild, but significantly worse, episodic memory for up to 6 months” — the latter of which refers to recalling personal past events.
Researchers noted that the study had a few limitations, including its small sample size.
“We still do not understand the mechanisms that cause these cognitive deficits, but it is very encouraging to see that these attention and memory return largely to normal in most people we tested by 6-9 months after infection, who demonstrated good recovery over time,” Oxford University Professor Masud Husain, one of the researchers involved in the study, said in a statement.
The research could provide more clues into how COVID-19 affects people in the weeks and months after testing positive.
Health organizations have already detailed that people who have COVID-19 can develop “long COVID-19,” referred to as “post-COVID conditions” by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, which can include tiredness or fatigue, sleep problems, lightheadedness and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
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