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Cognitive functioning in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A meta-analysis – Source: Psychological Medicine, Jan 2010

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By SJ Cockshell, JL Mathias • • January 6, 2010

Background: Cognitive problems are commonly reported in persons with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and are one of the most disabling symptoms of this condition. A number of cognitive deficits have been identified, although the findings are inconsistent and hindered by methodological differences.

The current study therefore conducted a meta-analysis of research examining cognitive functioning in persons with CFS in order to identify the pattern and magnitude of any deficits that are associated with this condition.

Method: A comprehensive search of the PubMed and PsycINFO databases for studies that examined cognitive functioning in CFS between 1988 and 2008 identified 50 eligible studies. Weighted Cohen's d effect sizes, 95% confidence intervals and fail-safe Ns were calculated for each cognitive score.

• Evidence of cognitive deficits in persons with CFS was found primarily in the domains of attention, memory and reaction time.

• Deficits were not apparent on tests of fine motor speed, vocabulary, reasoning and global functioning.

Conclusions: Persons with CFS demonstrate moderate to large impairments:

• In simple and complex information processing speed,

• And in tasks requiring working memory over a sustained period of time.

Source: Psychological Medicine, Jan 5, 2010.pp 1-15. PMID: 20047703, by Cockshell SJ, Mathias JL. School of Psychology, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. [E-mail:]

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