The effects of COVID-19 infection on working memory: a systematic review.

Publication date: Nov 26, 2023

Studies demonstrate that people who were infected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of COVID-19, would experience cognitive dysfunction, including working memory impairment, executive dysfunction, and decreased concentration. This review aimed to explore the incidence of working memory impairment and possible concomitant symptoms in the acute phase (< 3 months) and chronic phase (> 6 months) of COVID-19. We conducted a systematic review of the following databases for inception: MEDLINE via Pub Med, Cochrane EMBASE, and Web of Science electronic databases. The search strategy was comprised of all the observational studies with COVID-19 patients confirmed by PCR or serology who were infected by SARS-CoV-2 with no previous cognitive impairment. This review protocol was recorded on PROSPERO with registration number CRD 42023413454. A total of 16 studies from 502 retrieved articles were included. COVID-19 could cause a decline in working memory ability, the results showed that 22. 5-55% of the people suffered from working memory impairment in the acute phase (< 3 months) of COVID-19, at 6 months after SARS-CoV2 infection, the impairment of working memory caused by COVID-19 still existed, the prevalence was about 6. 2-10%, and 41. 1% of the patients had a slight decrease in working memory or a negative change in the boundary value. Moreover, concomitant symptoms could persist for a long time. To some extent, the performance of working memorywas affected by age, the time after infection, and the severity of infection. (β = -0. 132, P < 0. 001; β = 0. 098, P < 0. 001; β = 0. 075, P = 0. 003). The mechanism of working memory impairment after infection was mainly focused on the aspects of neuroinflammation and the nerve invasiveness of the virus, at the same time, we also noticed some changes of the brain parenchymal structure. Conclusion:COVID-19 can cause a decline in working memory ability, accompanied by neurological symptoms. However, there is a lack of studies to identify the structural and functional changes in specific brain regions that related to the impaired working memory.

Concepts Keywords
Coronavirus cognitive dysfunction


Type Source Name
disease MESH COVID-19
disease MESH infection
disease VO Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
disease MESH cognitive dysfunction
disease VO protocol
disease VO time
disease MESH neuroinflammation
disease VO LACK

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