Brain games can predict how bad your next cold will be: ScienceAlert

Brain games can predict how bad your next cold will be: ScienceAlert

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Daily brain tests can reveal how prepared your immune system is to deal with a future viral infection.

A study led by researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) showed this poor immune performance it tends to go hand in hand with periods of fluctuating cognitive fluctuations.

During the first few days of the eight-day study, three times a day, 18 participants tested their attention, reaction time, and ability to switch between numbers and symbols. On the fourth day of the study, the group was purposefully exposed to the human rhinovirus (HRV), which is usually responsible for the common cold.

On the remaining days, participants self-administered a nasal wash to measure the presence and volume of viral cells shed.

The volunteers were also asked to rate their experience of eight symptoms, including chills, cough, headache, nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and fatigue.

After all, the ones that shed the most a virus and had the worst symptoms showing inconsistent cognitive performance in the days leading up to their illness.

“At baseline, we did not find that cognitive function had a significant association with disease susceptibility because we used the raw scores,” says bioinformatics researcher Yaya Jai ​​at UM.

“But later, when we looked at change over time, we found that variation in cognitive function was closely related to immunity and susceptibility.”

In other words, a single, one-time test is probably not enough to determine the state of a person’s immune system. However, the trend of cognitive performance, measured in days, may be the ticket.

The study authors acknowledge that most people are unlikely to take a cognitive test three times a day for the rest of their lives. But their results still show strength, even when only five tests are accounted for – as long as they started three days before the infection and at least one test per day was done.

In the real world, one does not know when one will next be exposed to a virus. This means that brain tests to predict future immune responses should probably be taken semi-regularly. How regularly remains to be determined.

The current research is small and only hints at a possible link between cognitive function and a healthy immune system. Further studies among larger cohorts are needed to verify the results.

In the past, scientists studying brain function and health relied on raw cognitive outcomes. But emerging research suggests that the ups and downs of brain tests contain more information than any single test alone.

Impressive 19 years of trainingfor example, found that when a person’s reaction time showed greater variability on tests, that person was at greater risk for falls, neurodegenerative disorders, and death.

The authors of the current study hope that one day brain tests can be easily accessed and tracked by the public using their own smartphones.

Information about an individual’s typing speed, typing accuracy and sleep time, for example, can be combined with tests of attention and memory to better predict when they are at increased risk of severe illness.

Precautions can then be taken to reduce their exposure or to strengthen their body’s defenses.

“Traditional clinical cognitive assessments, which look at raw scores at one point in time, often do not provide a true picture of brain health,” explains neurologist P. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University.

“At-home periodic cognitive monitoring, via digital self-test platforms, is the future of brain health assessment.”

The study was published in Scientific reports.

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