How a cold or the flu can cripple your spatial awareness

Catching a cold or the flu, which leads to inflammation in the brain, impairs our ability to form spatial memories. That’s according to researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (UK) who have been studying how brain chemistry changes with inflammation and the resulting effects on cognition. They say the impairment results from a decrease in glucose metabolism in the brain’s memory centre, disrupting the neural circuits involved in learning and memory.

Inflammation has long been linked to disorders of memory like Alzheimer’s disease. The new findings, published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, help explain why inflammation impairs memory and could spur the development of new drugs targeting the immune system to treat dementia.

For the study, the team scanned 20 participants before and after either a benign salt water injection or typhoid vaccination (used in this case to induce inflammation). Positron emission tomography was then used to measure the effects of inflammation on the consumption of glucose in the brain. After each scan, participants tested their spatial memory by performing a series of tasks in a virtual reality.

Study leader Neil Harrison said a reduction in glucose metabolism within the brain’s memory centre, known as the medial temporal lobe, was seen following inflammation. Participants also performed less well in spatial memory tasks, an effect that appeared to be directly mediated by the change in the medial temporal lobe’s metabolism.

“We have known for some time that severe infections can lead to long-term cognitive impairment in the elderly. Infections are also a common trigger for acute decline in function in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” explained Harrison. “This study suggests that catching a cold or the flu, which leads to inflammation in the brain, could impair our memory.”

Harrison’s team now plans to investigate the role of inflammation in dementia, including how acute infections such as influenza influence the rate of progression and decline. “Our findings suggest that the brain’s memory circuits are particularly sensitive to inflammation and help clarify the association between inflammation and decline in dementia,” says Harrison. “If we can control levels of inflammation, we may be able to reduce the rate of decline in patients’ cognition.”

Related:
Discuss this article in our forum
Sports brain injury may actually be an autoimmune phenomenon
Multitasking: you’re bad at it
Spatial awareness skewed by fear
Gene expression altered with meditation

Source: Biological Psychiatry

, , , ,

Comments are closed.

Starbucks Venti Cold Cup - 24oz picture

Starbucks Venti Cold Cup - 24oz

$9.70



Cold Steel FGX Chaos Stiletto 92FNTST picture

Cold Steel FGX Chaos Stiletto 92FNTST

$20.20



Starbucks Reusable Cold Cups Set of 5 - 24 Fl oz Multi Color - NEW Summer 2022 picture

Starbucks Reusable Cold Cups Set of 5 - 24 Fl oz Multi Color - NEW Summer 2022

$23.99



Starbucks Rainbow Reusable Straw for Cold Beverage 2024 Limited Edition 9.5

Starbucks Rainbow Reusable Straw for Cold Beverage 2024 Limited Edition 9.5" NEW

$7.50



Cold Steel 11SDT Secret Edge Neck Knife 3-1/2

Cold Steel 11SDT Secret Edge Neck Knife 3-1/2" Plain Edge Blade Kraton Handle

$19.99



Cold Water-Jug Heat Resistant Household Teapot Kettle Beverage Water Pitcher picture

Cold Water-Jug Heat Resistant Household Teapot Kettle Beverage Water Pitcher

$13.38



DELTA AIRLINES Warm Milk Stainless Thermos Cold And Hot picture

DELTA AIRLINES Warm Milk Stainless Thermos Cold And Hot

$14.99



Vintage cold steel black sable picture

Vintage cold steel black sable

$320.00



Surplus Romanian Combat Knife Cold War (out of spec)  picture

Surplus Romanian Combat Knife Cold War (out of spec)

$67.95



Cold Steel Trench Knife Trainer 92R80NT picture

Cold Steel Trench Knife Trainer 92R80NT

$16.90



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes