Brain and cognitive health

The tragedy of the post-COVID “long haulers”

Anthony Komaroff, MD

Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Tens of thousands of people in the US have recovered from COVID-19 but continue to experience feelings of exhaustion, little energy, and mental fogginess that linger for months. Known as “post-COVID long haulers,” they are grappling with uncertainty surrounding when –– and whether –– their health problems will resolve.

The hidden long-term cognitive effects of COVID-19

it is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 affects the nervous system along with the respiratory system. Research is suggesting that this may result in long-term neurologic damage in those who survive a COVID infection, including evidence of effects on cognitive function.

Why is music good for the brain?

A study conducted by AARP found correlation between a person’s engagement with music and their opinion of their brain health and cognitive ability. While the study did not involve any objective measure of brain health, music has been shown to activate multiple areas of the brain, and keeping brain pathways active helps keep the brain strong in older age.

Shorter dream-stage sleep may be related to earlier death

Alice Cai, MD

Contributor

It’s well known that getting enough sleep is critical to daily functioning and long-term health. Now, new research suggests that a lack of enough REM sleep may be related to earlier death in people at middle age or older.

How can you help a loved one suffering from loneliness?

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more people are dealing with extended periods of isolation from family and friends. Increasing feelings of loneliness are a serious health issue that can increase the risk of death. If you or someone you know is in this situation, there are things you can do to mitigate the circumstances.

When lockdown is not actually safer: Intimate partner violence during COVID-19

Eve Valera, PhD

Contributor

For women living with abusive partners, the COVID-19 pandemic has made an already difficult and dangerous situation even worse. And even if a woman had been thinking about leaving an abusive situation or planning to leave, with current restrictions she may not be able to.

Can controlling blood pressure later in life reduce risk of dementia?

An analysis of multiple studies looking at the relationship between high blood pressure and cognitive health –– abilities like thinking, memory, and attention –– found that older people who lower high blood pressure are slightly less likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia.

How can you support your teenager with autism spectrum disorder if they are depressed?

Robyn Thom, MD

Contributor

A recent study found that teens with autism spectrum disorder are three times more likely to develop depression, but several aspects of ASD overlap with those of depression, so identifying symptoms of depression in a person with ASD can be challenging.

Acoustic neuroma: A slow-growing tumor that requires specialized care

James Naples, MD

Contributor

An acoustic neuroma is a tumor in the part of the brain responsible for hearing and balance. While the symptoms can be bothersome, these tumors are not cancerous and they grow slowly, allowing time for consultation with specialists and treatment planning.

Trouble with crossword puzzles? Improve your semantic memory

Semantic memory is your store of factual knowledge and the meanings of words. It also helps you recall nonverbal concepts and relationships between words and concepts. And while some aspects of memory may decline with age, semantic memory does not.