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In a first, Indian neuroscientists to map brains of covid survivors

The study may help quantify the impact of covid-19 on the mental health of survivors. (Photo: iStock)Premium
The study may help quantify the impact of covid-19 on the mental health of survivors. (Photo: iStock)

Indian neuroscientists will map the brains of people who either recovered from covid-19 or were asymptomatic to the disease to understand the reasons behind rising cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among such patients

NEW DELHI : Indian neuroscientists will map the brains of people who either recovered from covid-19 or were asymptomatic to the disease to understand the reasons behind rising cases of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder among such patients.

Scientists at the National Brain Research Centre (NBRC), who claim that this is the first such study globally, have come up with a novel non-invasive neuro-imaging technique of magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy. The brain-mapping will start enrolling volunteers for the study by end-October.

NBRC, an autonomous institute under the ministry of science and technology, will recruit all the asymptomatic and recovered covid-19 patients with mental health issues from Medanta Medicine Education and Research, Gurugram.

Scientists have noticed that SARS-CoV-2 is not just restricted to the respiratory system of the infected person.

Going beyond its common symptoms, it also causes neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders that affect the brain.

Dr Pravat Mandal, director-in-charge, NBRC, has proposed a study based on structural, spectroscopic, and behavioural studies to monitor the gradual changes in the brain non-invasively due to covid-19.

The study may help in quantifying the impact of covid-19 on the mental health of survivors. “To our knowledge, this is the very first study to invent this neuroimaging technique, i.e., conducting brain stress mapping in covid-19 survivors using MR spectroscopy," said Dr Mandal.

Scientists have observed that apart from lung damage, covid-19 also causes neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders.

A cohort study will be conducted for three groups—control, covid-19 asymptomatic patients, and covid-19 patients exhibiting mental health issues —with Dr Pooja Sharma, director of research, Medanta.

“The major rationale behind the proposed scheme is the increased level of oxidative stress in covid-19 survivors, which further contributes to the pathogenesis of several neurological diseases due to depletion of antioxidants. The impact of covid-19 on the brain continues to rise post-recovery. This further induces prolonged impact on the brain and may affect the brain with the progress of time," Mandal said.

There is no concrete data from India on how many covid-19 patients are translating into neurological cases, but the number is certainly on the rise.

A study from the US found that 34% of patients were diagnosed with such disorders in the six months after infection with coronavirus.

A recent study by the UK Biobank, which analyzed brain scans of 40,000 patients before and after the infection, has revealed that there is a substantial loss of grey matter in those who recovered from covid-19.

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