COVID-19 Brain and Cognition Research Study

Woman with brain pain


Study Overview

COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.  It is associated with respiratory illness that ranges from mild to severe depending on the individual. Most people recover but emerging reports suggest that a subgroup may experience significant, long-term effects including cognitive decline. We are partnering with Ascension to conduct a study to increase our understanding of potential cognitive as well as psychosocial outcomes of COVID-19.

Study Directors: Shelli Kesler, PhD; Ashley Henneghan, PhD, RN, FAAN; Kimberly Lewis, PhD, RN.

Contact: Contact our team by email at or phone at 512-232-4762 to discuss how you can participate!

Participation Eligibility

  • To participate, you must be age 21 to 50.
  • You must be one of the following:
    • You tested positive for COVID-19 but had mild to moderate symptoms and were not hospitalized.
    • You have never tested positive for COVID-19 or had symptoms of COVID-19 and you have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • You must be able to read and speak English.
  • You must have no metallic implants, permanent metal orthodontia or claustrophobia.

Study Procedures

If you decide to participate, we will ask you to complete the following assessments at just one time point:

  • A questionnaire that asks regarding your demographics, physical and mental health, medical history, social function and interactions, COVID-19 history and daily activities (60 mins).
  • A computerized test of memory, thinking and attention skills (10-15 mins).
  • Smell test using a scratch-and-sniff card (2 mins).
  • A brain MRI scan.  MRI uses magnetic fields to take images of your brain.  It does not involve any injections, radiation or other harmful effects (40 mins).

All study procedures will take place at the Health Discovery Building at The University of Texas at Austin. 

You will receive a $50 gift card for your participation and a free parking pass for the parking structure nearest the Health Discovery Building.