A new study has found that even people with mild cases of COVID-19 may experience changes in the structure and function of the brain, months after the initial infection. The study, conducted by the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil, involved 254 people who had previously had a mild case of COVID-19. Of the 254 participants, 102 had symptoms of both anxiety and depression, while 152 had no symptoms.
Using brain scans and tests of anxiety or depression symptoms, the researchers found evidence of shrinkage in the brain's gray matter in those people who had symptoms of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, special software was used to analyze networks with resting-state brain activity, and the researchers found widespread functional changes in 12 networks in the group with anxiety and depression symptoms, and changes in five networks in the group without symptoms.
Dr. Clarissa Yasuda of the University of Campinas in São Paulo said that the magnitude of these changes could lead to problems with memory and thinking skills, and suggested looking into holistic treatments even for people mildly affected by COVID-19. The findings are to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting that takes place April 22-27. It is important to note that research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.