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Central Nervous System Manifestations of COVID-19: A Critical Review and Proposed Research Agenda

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2021

Kelsey C. Hewitt
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA
David E. Marra
University of Florida, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
Cady Block
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA
Lucette A. Cysique
University of New South Wales, Department of Psychology, The Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, 3004, Australia St. Vincent’s Applied Medical Research Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, 2011, Australia
Daniel L. Drane
Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA Emory University, Department of Pediatrics, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
Michelle M. Haddad
Emory University, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA
Emilia Łojek
University of Warsaw, Department of Psychology, Warszawa, 00-183, Poland
Carrie R. McDonald
University of California-San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
Anny Reyes
University of California-San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA
Kara Eversole
James Madison University, Department of Graduate Psychology, Harrisonburg, VA 22807, USA
Dawn Bowers
University of Florida, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
E-mail address:



On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of a new viral entity, coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), to be a worldwide pandemic. The characteristics of this virus, as well as its short- and long-term implications, are not yet well understood. The objective of the current paper was to provide a critical review of the emerging literature on COVID-19 and its implications for neurological, neuropsychiatric, and cognitive functioning.


A critical review of recently published empirical research, case studies, and reviews pertaining to central nervous system (CNS) complications of COVID-19 was conducted by searching PubMed, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, and bioRxiv.


After considering the available literature, areas thought to be most pertinent to clinical and research neuropsychologists, including CNS manifestations, neurologic symptoms/syndromes, neuroimaging, and potential long-term implications of COVID-19 infection, were reviewed.


Once thought to be merely a respiratory virus, the scientific and medical communities have realized COVID-19 to have broader effects on renal, vascular, and neurological body systems. The question of cognitive deficits is not yet well studied, but neuropsychologists will undoubtedly play an important role in the years to come.

Critical Review
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021

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Kelsey C. Hewitt and David E. Marra contributed equally to this work.


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