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Cognitive and brain connectivity trajectories in critically ill COVID-19 patients.

NeuroRehabilitation 2024 Februrary 24
BACKGROUND: Multiple Organ failure (MOF) is one of the main causes of admission to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of patients infected with COVID-19 and can cause short- and long-term neurological deficits.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the cognitive functioning and functional brain connectivity at 6-12 months after discharge in two groups of individuals with MOF, one due to COVID-19 and the other due to another cause (MOF-group), with a group of Healthy Controls (HC).

METHODS: Thirty-six participants, 12 from each group, underwent a neuropsychological and neuroimaging assessment at both time-points. Functional connectivity of the resting state networks was compared between COVID-19 and HC while controlling for the effect of MOF. The association between functional connectivity and neuropsychological performance was also investigated.

RESULTS: Compared to the HC, COVID-19 group demonstrated hypoconnectivity between the Default Mode Network and Salience Network. This pattern was associated with worse performance on tests of attention and information processing speed, at both time-points.

CONCLUSION: The study of the association between cognitive function and brain functional connectivity in COVID-19 allows the understanding of the short- and long-term neurological alterations of this disease and promotes the development of intervention programs to improve the quality of life for this understudied population.

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