Scientists at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness that often accompanies illness.
An estimated 12M UK citizens have a chronic medical condition, and many of them report severe mental fatigue that they characterize as ‘sluggishness’ or ‘brain fog’. This condition is often as debilitating as the disease itself.
A team in the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health investigated the link between this mental fog and inflammation – the body’s response to illness. In a study published in Neuroimage, they show that inflammation appears to have a particular negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state.
Dr Ali Mazaheri and Professor Jane Raymond of the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health, are the senior authors of the study. Dr Mazaheri says: “Scientists have long suspected a link between inflammation and cognition, but it is very difficult to be clear about the cause and effect. For example, people living with a medical condition or being very overweight might complain of cognitive impairment, but it’s hard to tell if that’s due to the inflammation associated with these conditions or if there are other reasons.”
“Our research has identified a specific critical process within the brain that is clearly affected when inflammation is present.”
The study focussed specifically on an area of the brain which is responsible for visual attention. A group of 20 young male volunteers took part and received a salmonella typhoid vaccine that causes temporary inflammation but has few other side effects. They were tested for cognitive responses to simple images on a computer screen a few hours after the injection so that their ability to control attention could be measured. Brain activity was measured while they performed the attention tests.
On a different day, either before or after, they received an injection with water (a placebo) and did the same attention tests. On each test day they were unaware of which injection they had received. Their inflammation state was measured by analysing blood taken on each day.
The tests used in the study assessed three separate attention processes, each involving distinct parts of the brain. These processes are: “alerting” which involves reaching and maintaining an alert state; “orienting” which involves selecting and prioritising useful sensory information; and “executive control” used to resolving what to pay attention to when available information is conflicting.
The results showed that inflammation specifically affected brain activity related to staying alert, while the other attention processes appeared unaffected by inflammation.
“These results show quite clearly that there’s a very specific part of the brain network that’s affected by inflammation,” says Dr Mazaheri. “This could explain ‘brain fog’.”
Professor Raymond says, “This research finding is major step forward in understanding the links between physical, cognitive, and mental health and tells us that even the mildest of illnesses may reduce alertness.”
Dr Leonie Balter the first author of the study which was completed as part of her PhD, concluded : “Getting a better understanding of the relationships between inflammation and brain function will help us investigate other ways to treat some of these conditions. For example, further research might show that patients with conditions associated with chronic inflammation, such as obesity, kidney disease or Alzheimer’s, could benefit from taking anti-inflammatory drugs to help preserve or improve cognitive function.”
“Furthermore, subtle changes in brain function may be used as an early marker cognitive deterioration in patients with inflammatory diseases.”
The next step for the team will be to test the effects of inflammation on other areas of brain function such as memory.
The Latest on: Inflammation
- Study Debunks Claim That This Popular Food Causes Inflammationon October 7, 2020 at 9:30 am
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that dairy products and milk proteins do not provoke inflammation.
- Reproductive hormone may curb COVID-19 inflammation, prevent cytokine stormon October 6, 2020 at 6:35 am
Researchers have used "omics" data containing genetic profiles of drugs to identify the hormone oxytocin as a possible treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
- Researchers characterize the gene responsible for immune cell death and inflammation during sepsison October 6, 2020 at 4:45 am
Sepsis is caused by the immune system going into over-drive in response to infection. It leads to extreme inflammation that can cause blood clots and block oxygen from reaching vital organs, resulting ...
- COVID-19 inflammation condition in kids can be fatal in adults tooon October 5, 2020 at 7:55 am
Since June 2020, at least 27 adults in the US and the UK have been diagnosed with a similar condition called MIS-A and, of the 16 for whom data was available, two died of the syndrome.
- Development of Next-Generation Drugs to Inhibit Ravages of Chronic Inflammationon October 5, 2020 at 5:41 am
Multiple studies indicate that chronic inflammation triggers a cascade of disease-causing effects. The condition has also been linked to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, heart disease and diabetes among ...
- CDC: COVID-19 can cause severe organ inflammation in some adultson October 2, 2020 at 11:03 am
Adults with severe COVID-19 risk developing dangerous levels of inflammation simultaneously in several of the body's key organs, including the brain, heart, lung and kidneys, according to CDC research ...
- Forsyth researchers demonstrate how changing the stem cell response to inflammation may reverse periodontal diseaseon October 2, 2020 at 8:29 am
In new research published recently in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, Forsyth Institute scientists have discovered that a specific type of molecule may stimulate stem cells to regenerate, ...
- Pitt, Cedars-Sinai researchers discover why some covid patients develop severe inflammationon September 30, 2020 at 10:31 am
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai believe they have discovered why some covid-19 patients develop severe inflammation. Since March, scientists have ...
- Solving One of the Largest Drivers of Disease: Inflammationon September 30, 2020 at 6:37 am
Inflammation typically occurs in the body as a natural response to threats such as infection or injury, but chronic inflammation can cause severe damage and even death. Inflammation is a well-known ...
- High-fiber diet can reduce radiation-induced gut inflammation, study showson September 30, 2020 at 2:42 am
Loved or hated, the humble oat could be the new superfood for cancer patients as international research shows a diet rich in fiber could significantly reduce radiation-induced gut inflammation.
via Bing News
The Latest on: Mental sluggishness
- 7 ways to keep your kids active (and happy) this winteron October 5, 2020 at 9:01 am
Apart from setting good patterns for later life, physical activity is a key factor in children’s mental wellbeing ... doesn’t feel like exercise. Take sluggishness to task by giving your ...
- Mental Illness Misdiagnosed: Increasing Awareness of Obscure Physical Illnesseson September 30, 2020 at 7:03 am
We now know differently; with hypothyroidism or Grave's disease, the extreme sluggishness of body and ... disease culprits that present with mental illness signs and symptoms originate in ...
- CEO of Minnesota Public Radio's parent to step downon September 24, 2020 at 5:18 am
The president and CEO of the parent company of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media plans to step down, an announcement that came the same day employees released a letter saying the ...
- Understanding Depression!on September 19, 2020 at 7:51 am
It is important to know that Depression is more than just sadness. It can be the next mental health epidemic if we do not handle it with diligence. COVID 19 is wreaking havoc on the mental health ...
- Massive Drop in Lead Testing Threatens Children's Healthon September 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Some symptoms may seem like minor changes at first glance. Mayo Clinic lists effects including irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness, and fatigue. More serious ones include ...
- Leo daily career horoscope - 14 September 2020on September 13, 2020 at 12:12 pm
You may also feel like some confusion when dealing with these professional questions is very low and that this mental sluggishness is causing some hurdles. Maintain a cool head about you ...
- Tips on keeping your mind and body sharp and ready for productivityon August 29, 2020 at 5:00 pm
exercise tends to provide a therapeutic mental diversion from stressful thoughts as well. Benefits include lowered anxiety and depression and improved sleep. Without intervention, sluggishness and ...
- Coronavirus patients experiencing 'terrifying' hospital delirium, reports sayon August 7, 2020 at 4:45 am
While the former involves agitation, sudden mood changes and hallucinations, the latter is said to entail sluggishness and a dazed state. George said the most important preventative measures for ...
- Therapy for Depressionon August 5, 2020 at 12:10 pm
Mental health professionals regularly assess ... Has the veil on thinking or sluggishness of thought or speech persisted, lifted slightly, lifted significantly, or completely disappeared?
- Why are you feeling the cold?on July 23, 2020 at 8:52 pm
Other signs of hypothryoidism include sluggishness, thinning hair ... with a complex combination of physical, emotional and mental issues. If you suspect you, or a relative or friend of yours ...
via Bing News