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ECNP 2022 | Underlying mechanisms of brain fog

Sabina Brennan, PhD, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, discusses some of the potential underlying mechanisms of brain fog. Brain fog is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that affect cognitive function such as memory issues, confusion, or mental fatigue. Despite little research into the area, many of the underlying mechanisms of brain fog can be inferred from what is known about brain function. For example, sleep is important for the consolidation of information and the processing of metabolic waste products. Sleep deprivation can therefore cause memory issues and problems with cognitive function which come under the umbrella term of brain fog. It has been suggested that in patients that experience brain fog as a result of long COVID, an appropriate immune response to the acute stage of SARS-CoV-2 infection can become disproportionate over time. For the brain, this can cause inflammation which can disrupt brain cell communication and cause neuronal damage, likely resulting in some of the symptoms associated with brain fog. Although, not every patient that has long COVID has reported problems with cognitive performance. Dr Brennan believes that brain fog could therefore be caused by a culmination of multiple factors. This interview took place at the 35th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress 2022 in Vienna, Austria.

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