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Feel foggy when sick? Mental sluggishness linked to inflammation

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Researchers at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam say they have uncovered a possible explanation for the mental sluggishness that often accompanies illness. The team investigated the link between “mental fog” and inflammation, the body’s response to illness. In a study (“Selective effects of acute low-grade inflammation on human visual attention”) published in Neuroimage, they showed that inflammation appears to have a particularly negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state.

The study focused 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.

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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,” noted [researcher Ali] Mazaheri.

Read full, original post: Link Found between Inflammation and Mental Sluggishness

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