A team in the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health investigated the interrelated connection between mental fog and inflammation of the body’s response to illness. From the recent study published in Neuroimage, the research shows that inflammation appears to have a particularly negative impact on the brain’s readiness to reach and maintain an alert state.
Dr. Ali Mazaheri and Professor Jane Raymond of the University’s Centre for Human Brain Health, are the senior-most authors of the study. According to Dr., Mazaheri, scientists have long suspected a link between inflammation and cognition, but it is quite difficult and to be clear about the cause and effect.
Mahzheri elaborately explained through example, people living with a medical condition or being very overweight might complain of cognitive impairment. He told that it’s hard to tell if that’s due to the inflammation associated with these conditions or if there are other reasons.
Dr. Ali Mazaheri further told that their research has identified a specific process within the brain that is affected when inflammation is present.
Their study mainly focussed specifically on an area of the brain which is responsible for visual attention. A total of 20 young male volunteers took part and received a salmonella typhoid vaccine that causes temporary inflammation but has few other side effects. The volunteers were also examined for cognitive responses to simple images on a computer screen a few hours after the injection so that their ability to control attention could be measured. Brain activity was measured while they performed the attention tests which was provided to them.
The outcome of their test showed that inflammation specifically affected brain activity which is related to staying alert, while the other attention processes appeared unaffected by inflammation. Dr. Mazaheri told that these outcomes show quite clearly that there’s a very specific part of the brain network that’s affected by inflammation.