I have a “pandemic brain”. Can I focus again? | US News

I can pinpoint the exact moment when I noticed that my brain was still broken from the pandemic.

A few weeks ago, when I was on the train, I decided to send some overdue email replies. After 45 minutes of fast-forwarding, I was sitting cross-legged on the platform I was looking for, forgetting my email, and desperately switching tabs. It was now a terrible familiar experience of my cognitive abilities in my pandemic era.

With the first blockade since last spring, I was often distracted and overwhelmed, and then lost my work plot – the pain of the general Covid era. (The simple act of folding the laundry was a slapstick comedy blunder.) But now I’m completely vaccinated, planning, and even dating indoors. Life was starting to look almost normal. I felt good. Why did my brain miss the note? And was it possible to regain a reliable pre-pandemic forebrain?

Vaccination rates in the United States, the United Kingdom, and beyond have risen, shedding our cocoons and inviting us to become more fully involved with the outside world than they were more than a year ago.For some people, that may mean jumping into Bacchus first Hot vax summer.. For others like me, it also Pandemic cognitionFortunately, our brain is very plastic and can therefore be repaired. You can also assist in the process.

“It will take some time to recover from that,” says Mike Yassa. director The “it” of the University of California, Irvine’s Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the UCI Brain Initiative is subtle but frustrating, a mental deterioration that many of us suffered during the pandemic process. Or because the phenomenon has become known: a pandemic brain.

It is now common knowledge that stress can be detrimental to our physical health, especially if experienced over a long period of time. Long-term exposure to cortisol, the body’s major stress hormone, increases the risk of heart disease, sleep disorders, and even mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Cognition is also suffering.Chronic stress kills brain cells and even Reduce size Of the part of your brain responsible for your prefrontal cortex, memory, concentration and learning.

Weeks and months after the first blockade, people suddenly became unfocused, remembered things, and began to realize that they couldn’t perform their tasks. “It’s not just you,” the headline reassured us. “Smooth brain” meme It swept the internet.Recently, it has attracted attention paper In the Atlantic Ocean, we investigated the “fog of oblivion” in the late pandemic and suggested that the memory hole in our situation was an adaptive response to the infinite unknown.

As Yassa tells me, the pandemic was not just a stressful event. It is a collection of many simultaneous stressors, some of which are life-threatening, exacerbated by the disruption of our physical activity, daily rhythms, and routines, and have spread over months. Yassa thinks we’re finally “on the path to recovery,” but that doesn’t happen right away. Perhaps feeling my disappointment, he reminds me: “We didn’t get here overnight.”

Researchers have 18 months of social distance and uncertainty (literally, Physically For some people who have been treated for a serious Covid infection and have shown a decrease in gray mass).

Barbara Sahakian, a professor of clinical neuropsychiatry at the University of Cambridge, has worked with researchers at Fudan University to assess the effects of social isolation and loneliness on the brains of people during a pandemic. She says the effects across multiple areas of the brain are “serious.”

“There were changes in the volume of the temporal, frontal, occipital, subcortical areas, amygdala, and hippocampus of the brains of socially isolated people,” says Sahakian. Loss of volume in any or all of these areas can have a serious negative impact on the processes we rely on to engage with others and the world around us.

I think of a tragic episode of my life when I went shopping for foliage plants with a friend at a nearby hardware store last winter. It took an hour and a few interactions to understand which plants I wanted and what I needed to buy to hang them. We must have resembled the survivors of the newly released abductions from the underground bunker. And I relearned the basics of navigating the outside world.

It is worth remembering that different people have had very different pandemic experiences. As a healthy, childless 30’s who was able to continue working from home safety, the path to cognitive recovery may be smoother than front-line healthcare professionals and toddler single parents with post-traumatic stress symptoms. Maybe.

However, these experiences may have something in common. Sahakian surveyed people in different categories, from health care workers to those who had never been infected with Covid but were blocked. Throughout the group, people reported problems with concentration and memory. Many also reported symptoms of depression.

“People are resilient,” she says. “But some of the heavily affected people may continue to show them. [cognitive changes] To the future. “

Despite the great cognitive impact of last year, Sahakian and others in her field are optimistic about our recovery prospects. Even the unprecedented global health crisis can be mitigated by good old-fashioned mental health.


We all know guilty that we should move more and get the sweet endorphin rewards for our activities. There is also good evidence that physical activity improves cognitive function.motion Increases neuroplasticity – Or the adaptability of the brain to experience and change – this may help prevent future neurodegenerative conditions such as dementia, in addition to accelerating the rebound of the brain from recent situations.

Sweet sound of recovery

Professor Efthymios Papatzikis of the University of Oslo Metropolitan, who studies the neuroscience of music, says that listening to music increases the production of oxytocin, which generally contributes to empathy and feelings of goodwill. Music has also been shown to lower cortisol levels in the body.

“I don’t know exactly how that happens, but I see the impact,” he says. As long as they enjoy the music they are listening to, it’s a victory. Making music is even better, whether it’s singing or playing an instrument. Both are associated with improved cognitive resilience in later years.

Papatzikis has mistakes on the side of simple, melody-forward songs to relieve stress, but music that listeners find comfortable can produce therapeutic effects. If it’s your jam, going for a 30-minute walk soundtracked by Britney will work.

Release your head

Mood and cognitive function are often closely related. Mindfulness and meditation are associated with improvements in both aspects, relieving stress and enhancing automated cognitive processes such as memory recovery.

Exercises such as attention-focused meditation and conscious breathing direct one’s attention to a single object or sensation. This practice of “being in the moment” can counter the overwhelming experience in the short term and helps to infuse ruminant thinking patterns into the buds in the long term.

“So,” Sahakian advises, “Pay attention to the world around you, be curious, and spend your time at that moment.”

It will take patience between ourselves and the people around us to spend time in that moment while we re-enter the world of society. I’m attending a pandemic party for the first time since 2019, and when I wave my new acquaintance, I’m trying to relax myself a bit because of the social grace that has expired. Even if you repeat the same facts about the Mexican telenovela star Veronica Castro three times in one conversation.

After all, this is the time to return. I haven’t arrived yet, but I will. Our brain will do the same.

I have a “pandemic brain”. Can I focus again? | US News

Source link I have a “pandemic brain”. Can I focus again? | US News

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