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1- Student Research CoPh.D. Candidate, Student Research Committee, School of Medicine, Shahroud University of Medical Sciences, Shahroud, Iran.
2- MSc, Center for Health Related Social and Behavioral Sciences Research, Shahroud University of Medical Sciences, Shahroud, Iran.
3- Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, School of Advanced Technologies in Medicine, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran.
4- Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, Shahroud University of Medical Sciences, Shahroud, Iran.
5- Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Research Center, Addiction Institute, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran.
6- Assistant Professor, Clinical Research Development Unit, Imam Hossein Hospital, Shahroud University of Medical Sciences, Shahroud, Iran.
Background: Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) spreads rapidly worldwide and causes severe acute respiratory syndrome. The current study aimed at evaluating the relationship between the whole-brain functional connections in resting state and cognitive impairments in patients with COVID-19 compared with that of a healthy control group.
Methods: Resting-state fMRI and Montreal cognitive assessment (MoCA) data were obtained from 29 patients of the acute stage of COVID-19 on the third day of admission and 20 healthy controls. Cross-correlation of the mean resting-state signals was determined in the voxels of 23 IC (Independent Components) of brain neural circuits. To assess cognitive function and neuropsychological status, MoCA was performed on all participants. The relationship between rs-fMRI information, neuropsychological status, and paraclinical data were analyzed.
Results: The COVID-19 group got a lower mean MoCA score and showed a significant reduction in the functional connectivity of the IC14 (P <0.001) and IC38 (P <0.001) regions compared with controls. The increase of functional connectivity was observed in the COVID-19 group compared with controls at baseline in the default mode network (DMN) IC00 (P <0.001) and dorsal attention network (DAN) IC08 (P <0.001) regions. Furthermore, alternation of functional connectivity in the mentioned ICs was significantly correlated with the mean Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) scores and inflammatory parameters-ie, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), and C-reactive protein (CRP).
Conclusions: Functional connectivity abnormalities in four brain neural circuits associated with cognitive impairment and increased inflammatory markers in patients with COVID-19.
Type of Study: Original | Subject: Cognitive Neuroscience
Received: 2021/07/11 | Accepted: 2021/07/31

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