Aaron Schurger, PhD
Since its detection in December 2019, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the viral disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, has had prominent effects on human health and mortality. Studies in previous infections of SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV have found evidence of persistent symptoms in recovered patients, such as lethargy and shortness of breath. Similar residual symptoms have also been seen in recovered COVID-19 patients beyond four weeks of the initial onset of symptoms — collectively termed post-acute COVID-19 syndrome (PACS). These symptoms include deficits in working memory. Preliminary studies done in the United States and Europe have shown a significant portion of recovered individuals suffer from PACS. Thus, there is a need to understand the neurophysiological effects of PACS better and develop a systemic approach to treating its symptoms. Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation method, has been recently investigated as a possible non-pharmacological intervention in various neuropsychiatric disorders. The most appealing aspects of the intervention have been its safety, portability, and at-home application. tDCS regulates neuronal transmembrane potentials towards depolarization or hyperpolarization via weak electrical currents, resulting in changes in the resting membrane potential and transmembrane proteins. This project aims to investigate the effect of tDCS on working memory in individuals with PACS and its potential for clinical applications. Participants are asked to undergo eight 20-minute tDCS stimulation periods over four sessions. Each participant is tasked with the 2-back task before and after each stimulation period. Parameters related to working memory, such as response time, are recorded for data analysis. We anticipate that the results from this project will help us better understand PACS and enable us to propose new approaches to treating residual symptoms.
Min, Isaac and Schurger, Aaron, "Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation on Adults with Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome" (2022). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 595.
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