Recovery from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will be principally defined in terms of remission from respiratory symptoms; however, both clinical and animal studies have shown that coronaviruses may spread to the nervous system. A systematic search on previous viral epidemics revealed that while there has been relatively little research in this area, clinical studies have commonly reported neurological disorders and cognitive difficulties. Little is known with regard to their incidence, duration or underlying neural basis. The hippocampus appears to be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus infections, thus increasing the probability of post-infection memory impairment, and acceleration of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Future knowledge of the impact of COVID-19, from epidemiological studies and clinical practice, will be needed to develop future screening and treatment programmes to minimize the long-term cognitive consequences of COVID-19.


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Ritchie, K., Chan, D. & Watermeyer, T. 2020, 'The cognitive consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic: collateral damage?', Brain Communications, 2(2), article no: fcaa069. https://doi.org/10.1093/braincomms/fcaa069

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Last updated: 17 June 2022
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