Opinion
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(The Epoch Times) – Of all frightening ways that the SARS-COV-2 virus affects the body, one of the more insidious is the effect of COVID-19 on the brain.

It is now clear that many patients suffering from COVID-19 exhibit neurological symptoms, from loss of smell, to delirium, to an increased risk of stroke. There are also longer-lasting consequences for the brain, including myalgic encephalomyelitis /chronic fatigue syndrome and Guillain-Barre syndrome.

These effects may be caused by direct viral infection of brain tissue. But growing evidence suggests additional indirect actions triggered via the virus’s infection of epithelial cells and the cardiovascular system, or through the immune system and inflammation, contribute to lasting neurological changes after COVID-19.

I am a neuroscientist specializing in how memories are formed, the role of immune cells in the brain and how memory is persistently disrupted after illness and immune activation. As I survey the emerging scientific literature, my question is: Will there be a COVID-19-related wave of memory deficits, cognitive decline and dementia cases in the future?

The immune system and the brain

Many of the symptoms we attribute to an infection are really due to the protective responses of the immune system. A runny nose during a cold is not a direct effect of the virus, but a result of the immune system’s response to the cold virus.

This is also true when it comes to feeling sick. The general malaise, tiredness, fever and social withdrawal are caused by activation of specialized immune cells in the brain, called neuroimmune cells, and signals in the brain.

These changes in brain and behavior, although annoying for our everyday lives, are highly adaptive and immensely beneficial. By resting, you allow the energy-demanding immune response to do its thing. A fever makes the body less hospitable to viruses and increases the efficiency of the immune system. Social withdrawal may help decrease spread of the virus.

In addition to changing behavior and regulating physiological responses during illness, the specialized immune system in the brain also plays a number of other roles. It has recently become clear that the neuroimmune cells that sit at the connections between brain cells (synapses), which provide energy and minute quantities of inflammatory signals, are essential for normal memory formation.

Unfortunately, this also provides a way in which illnesses like COVID-19 can cause both acute neurological symptoms and long-lasting issues in the brain.

During illness and inflammation, the specialized immune cells in the brain become activated, spewing vast quantities of inflammatory signals, and modifying how they communicate with neurons. For one type of cell, microglia, this means changing shape, withdrawing the spindly arms and becoming blobby, mobile cells that envelop potential pathogens or cell debris in their path. But, in doing so, they also destroy and eat the neuronal connections that are so important for memory storage.

Another type of neuroimmune cell called an astrocyte, typically wraps around the connection between neurons during illness-evoked activation and dumps inflammatory signals on these junctions, effectively preventing the changes in connections between neurons that store memories.

Because COVID-19 involves a massive release of inflammatory signals, the impact of this disease on memory is particularly interesting to me. That is because there are both short-term effects on cognition (delirium), and the potential for long-lasting changes in memory, attention and cognition. There is also an increased risk for cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, during aging.

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UPDATE (2/7/2022):

Since launching our petition in support of the Freedom Convoy truckers less than one week ago, we've managed to obtain more than 65,000 signatures from freedom-loving people in every corner of the world!


This is an excellent show of support for the international cause of freedom from intrusive medical mandates, but Canada's truckers still find themselves a foremost target of their government, at both the federal and, now, local levels.

In fact, Mayor Jim Watson has even instituted an entirely unnecessary and politically-motivated "state of emergency" in Ottawa simply due to the truckers' presence there.

So if you haven't already, please SIGN this important petition, which calls on Prime Minister Trudeau and his pro-mandate allies to acknowledge the medical autonomy of working people by reversing course in the federal strategy to combat Covid.

If you have already signed this petition, please consider SHARING it on any of the following social media platforms by clicking on their respective links:

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Thank you for being a voice for freedom and medical autonomy!



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Canadian truckers are fighting back against Justin Trudeau's Covid overreach and medical tyranny, and are giving people across the country -- and the world -- a new voice for freedom!

These truckers, like millions of other Canadians, have been subjected to unprecedented medical coercion, manipulation, and intimidation on behalf of Trudeau's liberal government, and, with their livelihoods on the line, they have risen to meet the moment by bringing their cause directly to Ottawa in the form of a massive Freedom Convoy!

But, unsurprisingly, they are still being met with resistance by extreme politicians who wish to exercise complete control over these truckers' -- and all Canadians' -- medical autonomy, which is why we're asking you to show your support for these brave, hardworking men and women by adding your name and your voice to their cause.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to back off these truckers, change course in his approach to Covid, and support the medical autonomy of the truckers and all working Canadians going forward.

Like millions of Canadian workers across the country, truckers are being required by Justin Trudeau's Liberal government to get the experimental Covid-19 vaccine, or face a 14-day quarantine period if and when they cross the border into the United States to make their deliveries.

These truckers were categorized as "essential workers" (which they most certainly are) during the worst days of the Covid crisis, when lockdowns were the universal norm and millions of people were forced out of their jobs and offices. Even so, they remained on the job through it all, ensuring that essentials were available to people in every corner of the country, even when some businesses were shut down and strict rules were in place that made something as simple as grocery shopping a challenge for millions.

In fact, Prime Minister Trudeau went out of his way to compliment these men and women back in March of 2020, tweeting the following:

While many of us are working from home, there are others who aren’t able to do that - like the truck drivers who are working day and night to make sure our shelves are stocked. So when you can, please #ThankATrucker for everything they’re doing and help them however you can.

In fact, But just yesterday, Trudeau went on the record at a press conference labeling these truckers everything from "racists" to "Nazis" in a simply stunning reversal from his earlier comments.

So why the sudden change in attitude from the Prime Minister?

Because, as it turns out, these truckers are refusing to sit idly by while their rights -- and the rights of millions of working Canadians -- remain under attack like never before, and they are standing up to Trudeau and challenging his government's radical medical tyranny head-on.

With their livelihoods on the line, these truckers decided it was time to take action.

This past weekend, the #FreedomConvoy led a 50-mile-long caravan of what's estimated to be thousands of truckers from across Canada to Parliament Hill in Ottawa, where they staged a monumental demonstration to protest Trudeau's vaccination mandate.

In addition, truckers from across the United States (who are similarly fighting to preserve their own medical freedoms against a power-hungry federal government) also joined the Freedom Convoy to stand in solidarity with their neighbors to the north.

This massive, now-international movement to restore the individual rights of these truckers and all working people after nearly two years' worth of lockdowns, mandates, and vast government overreach and infringement is taking Ottawa -- and all of Canada -- by storm.

Look no further than the trucker's GoFundMe, which has raised $10 million in support of their cause -- more than what was raised by either of Canada's two major political parties during the last financial quarter of 2021.

The grassroots are clearly on their side (and the side of freedom), but even so, Trudeau remains unmoved...

He has dismissed the truckers and their supporters as a "small fringe," and has even accused the organizers of the Freedom Convoy and its participants of holding "unacceptable views."


But Justin Trudeau is wrong: These hardworking men and women are not racists or Nazis, and they are certainly not a fringe group -- they are patriotic, freedom-loving Canadians who refuse to stand down when being faced with egregious medical tyranny on the federal government's part, and who are using their constitutional right(s) to freedom of speech and expression to be a unified voice for millions of others faced with similar medical mandates.

And they need our support.


So please, take a few minutes now to SIGN and SHARE this important petition asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reverse course by supporting these truckers (and all working Canadians) by abandoning intrusive, unconstitutional vaccination mandates for working people going forward.

This petition will be delivered, in person, to both Prime Minister Trudeau and the leaders of the Freedom Convoy.

Let's show Justin Trudeau, once and for all, that the desire to live and work freely is not just limited to a "small fringe," but rather the inherent right of ALL Canadians and their millions of backers from across the globe -- including YOU!

Thank you!


FOR MORE INFORMATION:

'Canada’s trucker convoy has shown the world it’s possible to push back against COVID tyranny':  https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/canadas-trucker-convoy-has-shown-the-world-its-possible-to-push-back-against-covid-tyranny/

**Photo Credit:  YouTube (screenshot)

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How does inflammation exert long-lasting effects on memory?

If activation of neuroimmune cells is limited to the duration of the illness, then how can inflammation cause long-lasting memory deficits or increase the risk of cognitive decline?

Both the brain and the immune system change as a consequence of experience, in order to neutralize danger and maximize survival. In the brain, changes in connections between neurons allow us to store memories and rapidly change behavior to escape threat, or seek food or social opportunities. The immune system fine-tunes the inflammatory response and antibody production against previously encountered pathogens.

Yet long-lasting changes in the brain after illness are also closely linked to increased risk for age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. The disruptive and destructive actions of neuroimmune cells and inflammatory signaling can permanently impair memory. This can occur through permanent damage to the neuronal connections or neurons themselves and also via more subtle changes in how neurons function.

The potential connection between COVID-19 and persistent effects on memory are based on observations of other illnesses. For example, many patients who recover from heart attack or bypass surgery report lasting cognitive deficits that become exaggerated during aging.

Another major illness with similar cognitive complications is sepsis – multi-organ dysfunction triggered by inflammation. In animal models of these diseases, we also see impairments of memory, and changes in neuroimmune and neuronal function that persist weeks and months after illness.

Even mild inflammationincluding chronic stress, are now recognized as risk factors for dementias and cognitive decline during aging.

In my own laboratory, I and my colleagues have also observed that even without bacterial or viral infection, triggering inflammatory signaling over a short-term period results in long-lasting changes in neuronal function in memory-related brain regions and memory impairments.

Does COVID-19 increase risk for cognitive decline?

It will be many years before we know whether the COVID-19 infection causes an increased risk for cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease. But this risk may be decreased or mitigated through prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Prevention and treatment both rely on the ability to decrease the severity and duration of illness and inflammation. Intriguingly, very new research suggests that common vaccines, including the flu shot and pneumonia vaccines, may reduce risk for Alzheimer’s.

Additionally, several emerging treatments for COVID-19 are drugs that suppress excessive immune activation and inflammatory state. Potentially, these treatments will also reduce the impact of inflammation on the brain, and decrease the impact on long-term brain health.

COVID-19 will continue to impact health and well-being long after the pandemic is over. As such, it will be critical to continue to assess the effects of COVID-19 illness in vulnerability to later cognitive decline and dementias.

In doing so, researchers will likely gain critical new insight into the role of inflammation across the life-span in age-related cognitive decline. This will aid in the development of more effective strategies for prevention and treatment of these debilitating illnesses.

Natalie C. Tronson, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Reprinted with permission from The Epoch Times

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