A new study is being launched by experts at the University of Exeter to look at whether online brain training games are effective at reducing the impact of long Covid on brain function.

Scientists working on the BEACON six-month clinical trial are looking for adults who are worried about their brain health after having had Covid-19. The study will involve playing a set of brain training games for ten minutes, three times a week. The study will also involve completing a cognitive assessment at the start of the study, at 6 weeks and then at 6 months when the study concludes.

The brain training games have already been found to improve memory and brain health in older adults showing early signs of cognitive decline, and experts are keen to find out whether the same can be said for people with concerns about their memory or brain health after having Covid-19.

Vaccination and better treatments for Covid-19 mean that severe infection and deaths have slowed down. However, many people are still experiencing long term problems such as extreme tiredness, feeling short of breath, and muscle aches after their Covid-19 infection has resolved. Large numbers of people with long Covid also report experiencing problems with their brain health, such as memory problems and finding it difficult to pay attention.

Anne Corbett, Professor of Dementia Research at the University of Exeter said: “We know that people who are experiencing cognitive symptoms with long Covid can find it harder to get back to their normal lives, so it’s really important that we find a way to treat these symptoms. Online brain training games could be a great solution if they prove effective, since they are easy to roll out to large numbers of people and are relatively cheap.”

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research, is being led by the University of Exeter Medical School, in partnership with the Royal Devon University Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and a network of primary care centres.

The trial will be run completely online with people taking part from home. Adults who have had at least one infection with the Covid-19 virus and are worried about their memory or brain health can self-refer to take part in the trial at https://beaconstudy.org.uk/.