Long-lasting cognitive abnormalities after COVID-19

Roberta Ferrucci, Michelangelo Dini, Elisabetta Groppo, Chiara Rosci, Maria Rita Reitano, Francesca Bai, Barbara Poletti, Agostino Brugnera, Vincenzo Silani, Antonella D’Arminio Monforte, Alberto Priori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Considering the mechanisms capable of causing brain alterations in COVID-19, we aimed to study the occurrence of cognitive abnormalities in the months following hospital discharge. We recruited 38 (aged 22-74 years; 27 males) patients hospitalized for complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection in nonintensive COVID units. Participants underwent neuropsychological testing about 5 months after hospital discharge. Of all patients, 42.1% had processing speed deficits, while 26.3% showed delayed verbal recall deficits. Twenty-one percent presented with deficits in both processing speed and verbal memory. Bivariate analysis revealed a positive correlation between the lowest arterial oxygen partial pressure (PaO2) to fractional inspired oxygen (FiO2) (P/F) ratio during hospitalization and verbal memory consolidation performance (SRT-LTS score, r = 0.404, p = 0.027), as well as a positive correlation between SpO2 levels upon hospital arrival and delayed verbal recall performance (SRT-D score, rs = 0.373, p = 0.042). Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) during hospitalization was associated with worse verbal memory performance (ARDS vs. no ARDS: SRT-LTS mean score = 30.63 ± 13.33 vs. 44.50 ± 13.16, p = 0.007; SRT-D mean score = 5.95 ± 2.56 vs. 8.10 ± 2.62, p = 0.029). Cognitive abnormalities can frequently be found in COVID-19 patients 5 months after hospital discharge. Increased fatigability, deficits of concentration and memory, and overall decreased cognitive speed months after hospital discharge can interfere with work and daily activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number235
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • Cognition
  • COVID-19
  • Processing speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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