Investigating Neuropsychological Consequences of COVID‑19 on Adults, and Examination of Associated Risk and Resilience Factors

Paterson, Theone | $199,121

British Columbia University of Victoria 2021 CIHR Operating Grant

Emerging evidence suggests the virus causing COVID‑19 invades the brain, raising concern over possible long-term impacts of infection (i.e.,”long-covid”), not only on brain function, but also on the integrity of the brain’s capacity for thinking and supporting everyday functioning. We aim to characterize cognitive functioning in individuals who tested positive for COVID‑19 (3 months following their recovery from acute symptoms), and to identify resilience/protective factors as well as risk factors that may predict cognitive outcomes. Adults who have tested positive for COVID‑19 at least 3 months prior, and those with no evidence of having had the virus will complete a battery of cognitive and psychological tests via established, reliable, and valid videoconferencing techniques that are re-merging now but which have a long-standing tradition in remote assessment settings (e.g., international/cross border assessments, testing of patients in rural areas and Indigenous territories). We will compare test performance to determine group differences in cognitive functioning and other factors. We will then evaluate if one or more neuropsychological profiles (clusters) emerge from the data, characterizing COVID‑19 positive patients uniquely, and then we will determine if risk or protective factors predict cluster/profile membership. Findings will inform clinicians (e.g., neurologists, neuropsychologists, rehabilitation specialists), on how to optimally develop and deploy services in Ontario and BC, and will have relevance to other jurisdictions in Canada, as well as international health care communities. Results of this study will help to ensure that any lasting secondary impacts of COVID‑19 infection are appropriately and expeditiously addressed, so that those who have been affected by this virus are able to most efficiently resume complex daily activities requiring considerable cognitive effort, including employment and academic pursuits.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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