Cerebrum Summer 2020

MIT Press announced on June 29 that it was launching a new journal called Rapid Reviews-Covid 19 with the explicit purpose of reviewing preprint articles about the pandemic.

been withdrawn by authors or will never appear in a journal. In response to this dilemma, MIT Press announced on June 29 that it was launching a new journal called Rapid Reviews- Covid 19 with the explicit purpose of reviewing preprint articles about the pandemic. The journal will use both artificial intelligence (AI) and an army of volunteer reviewers to parse out the most “important” preprint studies in need of review. This important step needs to mimicked by the media. In publishing or broadcasting summaries of the research or claims in social media accounts, the media needs to make sure the information has been properly vetted and approach the claims with healthy skepticism. The media, which often fails to vet information responsibly due to the pressure of what has become a scramble to satisfy the 24/7 news cycle, needs to do a better job of helping its audience filter out weak research and misleading claims. In an article on the popular website, WebMD, Robert Stevens, M.D., a neurologist at Johns Hopkins School

loneliness that may increase the risk of depression or declines in memory over the long-term. An important research project that caught my eye, and which is now underway, may help shed more light on how to understand, diagnose, and treat Covid-19 and its neurological complications. Sherry Chou, a neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh medical center, has organized an international consortium of 50 medical centers to draw neurological data from care that patients have already received. Her early goal is to determine the prevalence of neurological complications among hospitalized patients and document how they fare. Her longer-term goal is to gather scans, lab tests, and other data to better understand the impact of the virus on the nervous system, including the brain. While the mobilization of the world’s scientific community to understand Covid-19 is unprecedented in history, keep in mind that more than 4,000 papers—known as preprints—have yet to be peer-reviewed. Some have

of Medicine, found neurological complications to be rare from patients infected with the new coronavirus, and he pointed out that “most people are showing up awake and alert and neurologically appear to be normal.” As to why the brain can sometimes be affected, he added that “we are still in the early days of this, and we don’t really know for sure.” Such caution from Stevens and others on the frontlines is the reason we need to be cautious at making definitive pronouncements. Over time, the global research effort ought to provide the answers and help us triumph over this baffling virus. l Phil Boffey is former deputy editor of the New York Times Editorial Board and editorial page writer, primarily focusing on the impacts of science and health on society. He was also editor of Science Times and a member of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by the Dana Foundation.

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