PhD Scientific Days 2023

Budapest, 22-23 June 2023

Health Sciences II.

Impairments of Verbal Working Memory in Young Females in Post-COVID-19 Condition: Vaccination Prevents Cognitive Impairments

Johanna Takács1, Akos Koller2,3,4
1 Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
2 Department of Morphology and Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary
3 Research Center for Sport Physiology, Hungarian University of Sports Science, Budapest
4 Institute of Translational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Semmelweis University, Budapest

Text of the abstract

Introduction: One of the most commonly reported symptoms of post-COVID-19 condition (PCC) is cognitive dysfunction. There are only few studies examining long-term cognitive symptoms (LTCS), but they are restricted to adults/older adults and lack a control group. We hypothesized that cognitive dysfunctions occur in young females in PCC, and vaccination has a preventive role even after reinfection.
Aims: To assess LTCS in PCC after a mild infection, and examine the preventive role of vaccination in cognitive impairments.
Method: 15 months after the COVID-19 infection, cognitive assessment was conducted with Vienna Test System Neuro, measuring attention and executive functions as well as response inhibition. 74 young female adults aged between 18 and 34 (M=20.6±3) participated in the study. Test results are interpreted in percentile ranks (PR) and frequencies.
Results: 64.9% of the young females had mild acute COVID-19 illness; 27.1% reported long COVID symptoms (LC). The rate of reinfection was 29.2%, mostly after vaccination. Attention functions and inhibition response showed non-significant differences between the LC, infected (IG) and control CG (CG) groups. However, in divided attention, the rate of below-average performance (<25PR) was higher in LC (61.5%) and IG (62.9%) than in CG (34.6%). In verbal working memory, there was a significant difference between the groups (F(2,70)=4.731, p=0.012, η2p=0.12). LC showed lower working memory performance (MPR=28.6±5.4) than IG (MPR=46.5±3.3) and CG (MPR=47.5±3.8). 69.2% of LC showed below-average performance; this was 20% in IG and 26.9% in CG. Non-reinfected (MPR=44.4±3.6) and after-vaccination reinfected (MPR=41.2±5.2) females showed better verbal working memory performance than those reinfected before vaccination (MPR=26.1±9.8).
Conclusion: In young females COVID-19 infection elicits long-term mild cognitive impairments, especially in verbal working memory. Vaccination helps to prevent cognitive dysfunctions in verbal working memory even after reinfection. Thus, the follow-up would be necessary to control the progression of cognitive impairments with/without subjective complaints, especially after reinfection.
Funding. ÚNKP-22-4 New National Excellence Program of the Ministry for Culture and Innovation from the source of the National Research, Development and Innovation Fund.