7T MRI Study of How COVID-19 Affects the Brain

COVID-19's long-term impact on your brain and it’s connection to dementia. Learn how COVID-19 may have impacted you.


Study at a Glance

Estimated Time Commitment

5 to 7 hours over 1 to 2 visits


Age Eligibility

45 to 80 years

Diagnosis Required





About the Study

COVID-19 has been shown to cause significant damage to brain blood vessels which can increase your risk of stroke and doubles your risk of developing dementia.

The most common symptoms across all age groups include memory loss and cognitive dysfunction, such as difficulty concentrating.

To help us learn whether these symptoms from the virus may be early indicators of cognitive decline or dementia and identify it’s long-term effects, over one to two visits we will review your brain health.

Hispanics and African Americans are at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19 and developing dementia. Persons of either background are especially welcome to help us learn about these higher-risk rates.

Persons without COVID-19 may also qualify to participate to help us understand the differences between those who did and did not develop COVID-19/

Understand COVID-19’s full impact on your health

Participation includes free exams during one to two visits that may take five to seven hours to complete.

On the second visit, you will receive an Ultra-high field 7-tesla brain MRI scan (used in research settings) at the Houston Translational Imaging Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston, Texas. Travel to and from the imaging center will be provided or reimbursed.

f any results appear abnormal, our care team will refer you to a physician for additional care.

For your time, you will receive $50 for each completed study visit.

To qualify to participate, you must be 45 to 80 years old and have:

  • Recovered from COVID-19 or
  • Developed an illness other than COVID-19 or
  • Not had any illnesses requiring hospitalization in the last two years

Free exams include:

  • Review of your physical and mental health
  • Blood pressure and pulse exam
  • Neurological exam
  • Gait strength and walk test to check for any signs of dementia
  • Smell test
  • Blood draw
  • Brain imaging

First visit

The first visit will include a:

  • Review of current medications and physical and mental health prior to the pandemic
  • Review of daily functioning and behavior
  • Blood pressure and pulse examination
  • Neurological exam
  • Gait test: Participants will be asked to walk a distance of 4 meters. During the test, participants will be instructed to walk at a normal pace and a comfortably quick pace to review gait speed
  • Grip strength test: Participants will grip a dynamometer to measure the strength of the participant’s hand grip
  • Memory and thinking skills examination
  • Smell test: Participants will be tested using a self-administered olfactory function questionnaire about smelling sensations and will identify smells with a ‘Scratch and Sniff’ test
  • Blood draw

Second visit  

For the second visit, volunteers will receive a MRI scan normally used for specialty care at the Translational Imaging Center at Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston, Texas. (Travel to and from the study center will be provided or reimbursed.) The scan will take approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete. All volunteers will be required to have the scan completed at the Translational Imaging Center in Houston within 1 month of the first visit. The MRI scan will be used for research insights, however, if our team finds something that needs clinical attention, participants will be referred to a physician and the scans will be made available.

Pre-existing conditions 

Participation in this study does not affect treatment plans for pre-existing conditions.


Participants will be compensated for their time after completion of examinations. Tavel to and from the study center in Houston, Texas will be provided or reimbursed. Volunteers will not be charged for any procedures performed as part of participation in the study.

Protecting Privacy

To protect the privacy of our volunteers, our team will use numbers instead of names to identify health information. Initials and numbers will be used on any study materials containing health information shared for review or testing outside of UT Health San Antonio, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, University of Pittsburgh, Houston Methodist and/or University of Nottingham. If results of this study are published in medical journals or at meetings, information shared will not be identifiable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I participate if I have not had COVID-19? Yes, we are particularly interested in separating the effects of the pandemic, such as social isolation, and the effects of non-COVID-19 related illnesses from the effects of COVID-19. Participants who have never been diagnosed with COVID-19 are welcome to enroll.

Can I participate if I have received the COVID-19 vaccine? Yes, all participants, regardless of their vaccination status, are welcome to enroll. All clinical research team members are vaccinated.

Meet Your Clinical Research Team

Contact us

Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm

Monica Goss, PhD

Phone: 210-450-3167

Email: gossm@uthscsa.edu