NEWS Are COVID-19 personality disorders caused by viral damage to the prefrontal cortex?

Are COVID-19 personality disorders caused by viral damage to the prefrontal cortex?

Not being vaccinated against COVID-19 may mean individuals are at higher risk of being involved in a car crash, according to a Canadian study. What if I have brain damage from COVID-19 infection?

The recent marked increase in violent crime in the United States and Canada, as well as the high number of mass killings and school shootings during the pandemic, has many people questioning what is happening in our society. Many people associate these events with the stress of the pandemic and the wearing of masks, social distancing and lockdowns, mandates that, at least in the United States, are not being followed by much of our society.

In December 2022, we heard about COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy increasing the risk of traffic accidents.right wing media mocks American Journal of Medicine article. But such observations may be grounded in reality and have plausible explanations.

A recent PLOS ONE study observed significant and small decreases in Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness from 2021 to 2022. These findings are speculated to be related to “population-wide stressful events” associated with the pandemic. However, other studies have documented resilience after other natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Brain damage from COVID-19?

However, we must take into account the possibility that the observed behavioral abnormalities could be directly caused by the infection and the resulting CNS damage. The theory revolves around damage to the frontal lobe, an area of ​​the prefrontal cortex. Damage to this area can lead to various emotional-social disturbances. Joseph Barrash et al. report the following for lesions in prefrontal cortex regions: “Irritability, impatience, and instability were common manifestations, along with a lack of abilities, including lack of self-monitoring of social behavior” and impairment of “moral reasoning and judgment.” Executive dysfunctional personality disorder may also occur, which is associated with “impaired cognitive control associated with deficits in emotional/social behavior and decision-making.”

The prefrontal cortex acquires and enforces the “rules of the game” needed to participate in our society. A specific area of ​​the prefrontal cortex, the orbitofrontal cortex, is an important area of ​​the brain. It is also important in regulating antisocial behavior and regulating reactive aggression. In other words, the prefrontal cortex is involved in deciding when aggression is appropriate and when it is not.recently published in nature The SARS-CoV-2 virus was also found to be widely distributed throughout the body, including the brain. “

Multiple studies have documented damage to the frontal cortex from COVID-19. One of the first studies, UK Biobank, described the “detrimental effects” of SARS-CoV-2 on the olfactory cortical system, with reduced gray matter thickness in the orbitofrontal cortex and damage to tissues connected to the primary olfactory cortex. This The damage was associated with a reduction in brain size. The orbitofrontal cortex (sometimes called the secondary olfactory cortex), the amygdala, and the limbic system have extensive connections with the olfactory cortex and are involved in memory and emotion. The authors of the UK Biobank study also noted that “participants infected with SARS-CoV-2 also showed, on average, greater cognitive decline.”

Some have hypothesized that the olfactory bulb may be the entry point into the central nervous system. Loss of smell was reported in more than 50% of patients with article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Astrocyte infection was documented in 26 patients who died of COVID-19. They also documented a “severe acute injury” in the orbitofrontal region. The authors hypothesize: “The high rates of anosmia and taste disturbance support the idea that the virus enters the nervous system, more specifically the orbitofrontal area (due to proximity and communication with the nasal cavity).” Corresponding author, Biochemistry, University of Campinas, Brazil Dr. Daniel Martins-de-Souza, associate professor and head of proteomics, describes how SARS-CoV-2 uses the protein “neuropilin” to invade the central nervous system because astrocytes “don’t have (ACE-2 ) protein.”

The findings also have broader implications for society as a whole. Severe COVID-19 (hospitalized patients on ventilators) was associated with a score of 70, corresponding to a 7-point drop in IQ. For those treated at home for simple respiratory symptoms, the average reduction was about a little over 1 IQ point (calculated from Figure 2 in the paper). Unfortunately, repeated infections can cause additional harm to long-term COVID-19 patients; therefore, even a small decline in IQ can become serious.

We must avoid reinfection with COVID-19

Therefore, we must avoid reinfection. Vaccinations and boosting immunity, along with wearing masks, maintaining social distance and avoiding poorly ventilated places, are all public health strategies that need to be adopted. However, certain parts of our society reduce the effectiveness of these interventions and the danger of the virus. At times, they can become aggressive, overly aggressive, and lose control of their emotions. Public health professionals around the world are under threat, and many have left the field.

The toxic environment of partisan politics in the United States exemplifies this loss of emotion. Parts of the far-right conservative movement appear to be faring worse than others, with many shying away from masks and vaccines. One study found that “…the Republican trifecta and the political affiliation of conservative voters were independently significantly associated with an 11%–26% higher COVID-19 death rate.” Another study by the University of Maryland found that Republican-majority counties had 72.9 deaths per 100,000 people during the pandemic compared with Democratic-majority counties. Another NBER study, backed by the Yale School of Public Health, found that Republicans had a 76 percent higher excess death rate than Democrats. Germany, too, has a far-right movement trying to storm the Reichstag and rally around rules related to lockdowns and face masks.

It is hypothesized that COVID-19 produces persistent COVID-19 personality disorder due to anatomical damage to the orbitofrontal cortex caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection. In this case, those populations that shy away from public health interventions and actively seek to stop general sanitation measures may enter a vicious cycle of decline. As repeated infections occur, the damage to the brain increases, leading to decreased emotional control and increased aggression.

what can we do?

All of this makes it imperative that we slow the spread of the disease and send a clear and consistent message about the risks of COVID-19 and what mitigation procedures can be implemented. Businesses should set aside early morning mandatory mask wearing (high-quality masks with a good fit, such as N95) to allow high-risk groups to shop safely and use UV-C germicidal lamps in upstairs rooms. In addition, online and curbside service at restaurants and retail establishments should be expanded. Above all, we need a fast-tracking program to develop a mucosal vaccine that offers the best hope of mitigating the spread of this disease.

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