Authors: Voruz P, Allali G, Benzakour L, Jacot I, Pierce J



There is growing awareness that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, even in its mild or moderate respiratory forms, can include long-term neuropsychological deficits. Standardized neuropsychological, psychiatric, neurological, and olfactory tests were administered to 45 patients 236.51 ± 22.54 days after hospital discharge following severe, moderate, or mild respiratory severity from SARS-CoV-2 infection (severe = intensive care unit hospitalization, moderate = conventional hospitalization, mild = no hospitalization). Deficits were found in all domains of cognition, and the prevalence of psychiatric symptoms was relatively high in the three groups. The severe infection group performed more poorly on long-term episodic memory tests and exhibited greater anosognosia than did the other two groups. Those with moderate infection had poorer emotion recognition, which was positively correlated with persistent olfactory dysfunction. Individuals with mild infection were more stressed, anxious, and depressed. The data support the hypothesis that the virus targets the central nervous system (notably the limbic system) and the notion that there are different neuropsychological phenotypes.

Keywords: cognitive deficits; neuropsychology; psychiatric symptoms; long COVID; SARS-CoV-2