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A twin study of cognitive function in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The effects of sudden illness onset

  [ 338 votes ]   [ 1 Comment ]
By KH Claypoole, et al. • • July 11, 2007

Journal: Neuropsychology. 2007 Jul;21(4):507-13.

Authors and affiliations: Claypoole KH, Noonan C, Mahurin RK, Goldberg J, Erickson T, Buchwald D. Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

PMID: 17605583

Variable reports of neuropsychological deficits in individuals with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may, in part, be attributable to methodological limitations. In this study, these limitations were addressed by controlling for genetic and environmental influences and by assessing the effects of comorbid depression and mode of illness onset.

Specifically, the researchers conducted a co-twin control study of 22 pairs of monozygotic twins, in which 1 twin met strict criteria for CFS and the co-twin was healthy. Twins underwent a structured psychiatric interview and comprehensive neuropsychological assessment evaluating 6 cognitive domains.

Results indicated that twin groups had similar intellectual and visual memory functioning, but fatigued twins exhibited decreases in motor functions (p = .05), speed of information processing (p = .02), verbal memory (p = .02), and executive functioning (p = .01).

Major depression did not affect neuropsychological functioning among fatigued twins, although twins with sudden illness onset demonstrated slowed information processing compared with those with gradual onset (p = .01).

Sudden onset CFS was associated with reduced speed of information processing. If confirmed, these findings suggest the need to distinguish illness onset in future CFS studies and may have implications for treatment, cognitive rehabilitation, and disability determination.

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Article Comments Post a Comment

Information processing in Slow Onset vs Acute Onset ME/CFS
Posted by: ExperienceCounts
Jul 18, 2007
It is obviously difficult to make a judgement on a clinical trial with so little information - but from personal experience I would be very disappointed if they did not review their findings that there is greater difficulty in in information processing in acute onset vs slow onset ME/CFS. In my case, I had ME/CFS for 7 years before the cognitive disfunction deteriorated rapidly and quickly became so severe that I was desperate to seek help. The physical symptoms I could live with - but not the cognitive. Five years on, and while my cognitive function has improved markedly, it is still not anywhere near pre-ME/CFS level, and probably not even as good as it was 5 years into ME/CFS. I won't go into detail of my symptoms then and now unless anyone is actually interested to read it! But my thoughts on the subject are this - it ma be less to do with slow vs acute, and more to do with subjects being researched having a similar level of illness. Maybe it just takes slow onset sufferers longer to get to the same point of illness as those with acute illness, rather than there simply being different levels of severity of cognitive disfunction between the two groups!
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