Scientific article
Open access

Functional connectivity underlying cognitive and psychiatric symptoms in post-COVID-19 syndrome: is anosognosia a key determinant?

Published inBrain communications, vol. 4, no. 2, fcac057
Publication date2022
First online date2022-03-09

Lack of awareness of cognitive impairment (i.e., anosognosia) could be a key factor for distinguishing between neuropsychological post-COVID-19 condition phenotypes. In this context, the twofold aim of the present study was to i) establish the prevalence of anosognosia for memory impairment, according to the severity of the infection in the acute phase, and ii) determine whether anosognosic patients with post-COVID syndrome have a different cognitive and psychiatric profile from nosognosic patients, with associated differences in brain functional connectivity.

A battery of neuropsychological, psychiatric, olfactory, dyspnea, fatigue and quality-of-life tests was administered 227.07 ± 42.69 days post-SARS-CoV-2 infection to 102 patients (mean age: 56.35 years, 65 men, no history of neurological, psychiatric, neuro-oncological or neurodevelopmental disorder prior to infection) who had experienced either a mild (not hospitalized; n = 45), moderate (conventional hospitalization; n = 34) or severe (hospitalization with intensive care unit stay and mechanical ventilation; n = 23) presentation in the acute phase. Patients were first divided into two groups according to the presence or absence of anosognosia for memory deficits (26 anosognosic patients and 76 nosognosic patients). Of these, 49 patients underwent an MRI. Structural images were visually analyzed, and statistical intergroup analyses were then performed on behavioral and functional connectivity measures.

Only 15.6% of patients who presented mild disease displayed anosognosia for memory dysfunction, compared with 32.4% of patients with moderate presentation and 34.8% of patients with severe disease. Compared with nosognosic patients, those with anosognosia for memory dysfunction performed significantly more poorly on objective cognitive and olfactory measures. By contrast, they gave significantly more positive subjective assessments of their quality of life, psychiatric status, and fatigue. Interestingly, the proportion of patients exhibiting a lack of consciousness of olfactory deficits was significantly higher in the anosognosic group. Functional connectivity analyses revealed significant decrease in connectivity, in the anosognosic group as compared to the nosognosic group, within and between the following networks: the left default mode, the bilateral somatosensory motor, the right executive control, the right salient ventral attention and the bilateral dorsal attention networks, as well as the right Lobules IV and V of the cerebellum.

Lack of awareness of cognitive disorders and, to a broader extent, impairment of the self-monitoring brain system, may be a key factor for distinguishing between the clinical phenotypes of post-COVID syndrome with neuropsychological deficits.

  • Post-COVID syndrome
  • Anosognosia
  • Neuropsychological deficits
  • MRI
  • Functional connectivity
Citation (ISO format)
VORUZ, Philippe et al. Functional connectivity underlying cognitive and psychiatric symptoms in post-COVID-19 syndrome: is anosognosia a key determinant? In: Brain communications, 2022, vol. 4, n° 2, p. fcac057. doi: 10.1093/braincomms/fcac057
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ISSN of the journal2632-1297

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