Coronavirus causes ‘brain fog’ that can decrease eight points of your IQ as if the mind has aged a decade, study suggests
- Experts warn that survivors of some of the worst cases are at risk for mental damage
- Some have reported that they have lost the ability to remember everyday facts or have a conversation
- In fact, some survivors registered the equivalent of an 8.5 point drop in their IQ
Coronavirus can age the brain by ten years or cause IQ to decline, a study suggests.
Researchers have warned that survivors of the worst cases of the virus could be at risk for permanent mental damage, equivalent to a drop in IQ by 8.5 points or the aging of the brain in a decade.
This ‘brain fog’ has been reported by patients for weeks, even months after recovery from Covid-19.
Some have reported that they have lost the ability to remember everyday facts or have a conversation.
Researchers have warned that survivors of the worst cases of the virus could be at risk for permanent mental damage, equivalent to an 8.5 point drop in IQ or the aging of the brain in a decade. [File photo]
It could be a sign of “chronic cognitive consequences,” say the scientists.
The team, led by Imperial College London, analyzed questionnaire responses from nearly 85,000 people who had recovered from confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
They found that damage to the brain occurred at different levels, depending on how severe the disease had been.
Some patients treated in intensive care or requiring ventilation registered the equivalent of a decrease in their IQ of 8.5 points.
This is a trap big enough for an individual to feel an impact on their daily life and work, the authors warn.
Lead author Adam Hampshire, of Imperial College London, said the ‘shocking’ findings did not only apply to patients who ended up in the hospital.
Some who tested positive for the virus but had no breathing difficulties also registered some cognitive decline after they recovered.
Those who recovered at home experienced a four-point drop in IQ or the equivalent of five years of aging.
The team, made up of scientists from Cambridge University, University of Chicago and King’s College London, also found that coronavirus survivors scored poorly on spatial orientation, emotion processing, and attention retention tests.
They were able to compare the test results to pre-Covid times, as the 85,000 people surveyed had already answered questions as part of the Great British Intelligence Test – which provided a measure of pre-pandemic IQ.
Some patients treated in intensive care or requiring ventilation registered the equivalent of an 8.5 point drop in their IQ [File photo]
The study says the results should serve as a ‘clarion call’ for further studies on how coronavirus affects the brain.
The study reads, “Individuals recovered from suspected or confirmed Covid-19 perform worse on cognitive tests in multiple domains than would be expected, given their details, age and demographic profiles.”
The researchers did point out that any time spent in intensive care or on a ventilator before an illness affects cognitive functioning.
The first study was conducted in May, and the authors said further research is needed to determine how long this Covid-related ‘brain fog’ lasts.
Last month, the Daily Mail spoke to Grace Dolman, a liver specialist at Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge.
The 40-year-old, who contracted the coronavirus in March, had to stop working in June due to the effects of ‘long Covid’. She said her concentration and memory are still poor.