The study collaboration involves the Department of Psychiatry, the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity at the University of Oxford, Imperial College London and the National Institute for Health (NIHR) Research Leicester Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).
This new study follows on from the NIHR Leicester BRC led PHOSP-COVID study, which investigated the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 on hospitalised patients, the C-MORE study, which aimed to understand the medium-term and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the organs, and the COVID-19 Clinical Neuroscience Study (COVID-CNS), which investigates people who had neurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms whilst acutely ill.
Participants for the C-Fog study will be recruited from the participants in the original PHOSP-COVID study. There will be two avenues of assessment, one using a new online tool - COGNITRON, which is a comprehensive cognitive assessment and was created by Professor Alan Hampshire, Imperial College London, and another where further imaging and scans of brain function will be carried out.
This study is funded by a grant from the Wolfson Foundation and supported by the MQ Mental health research charity.
Dr Maxime Taquet, study lead, said:
'This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about "brain fog" and builds on the great work done by the PHOSP-COVID study investigators and participants. We are enormously grateful to the Wolfson Foundation and MQ Transforming Mental Health for funding C-Fog. I have met several patients with "brain fog" following COVID infection, and they have told me how distressing and debilitating this problem can be. One encounter that stuck with me was a gentleman who had been running his own business successfully for years and had to stop because he was finding simple tasks too confusing. I am hopeful that this study will deliver answers to important questions about these symptoms and what is happening in the brain after COVID infection, both to help these patients and, more generally, perhaps to help us understand how the brain responds to viral infection.'
The study aims to start recruitment in early Spring and researchers will simultaneously analyse existing data from two major studies, PHOSP-COVID and C-MORE, alongside electronic health record data, to develop ideas and possible explanations for what is happening in the brains of people affected by COVID-19 infection.
Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive, Wolfson Foundation, said:
'The long-term impact of COVID-19 infection is poorly understood. It is, however, sadly clear that the long-term health effects will be profound - and be felt in societies across the globe. Wolfson has a longstanding interest in the research and treatment of neurological conditions and we are very pleased to be supporting MQ and their research partners in this crucial work.'
To read more about MQ Mental health research.