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Cognitive deficits in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 80 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • September 15, 1996

Twenty-nine subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS [1988 CDC])
and 25 healthy control subjects were administered a lengthy
neuropsychological battery that included standard
neuropsychological tests and a computerized set of tasks that
spanned the same areas of ability. The primary significant
differences between patients and controls were found on tests
of learning and memory. These differences remained when the
degree of psychiatric symptomatology in the subjects was
covaried. Patients on and off psychoactive medications did
not differ in their performance on these tasks. These results
suggest that at least a subset of CFS patients may experience
significant impairments in learning and memory.

MCM: Using MANOVA to assess as a group the results of tests
within each domain, there were no highly significant
differences (at < 0.01 level) shown in these cognitive
domains: attention/psychomotor speed (MANOVA p=.44), language
(MANOVA p=.02), spatial ability (MANOVA p=.04), or Set
shifting/conceptualization (MANOVA p=.03). Individual tests
within domain were compared by ANOVA and by ANCOVA (the latter
controls for the substantial differences in psychiatric
symptoms between the two groups, using the result of the
SCL-90 (Hopkins Symtom Checklist, a measure of overall
severity) for the covariate.

ANOVA found these highly significant differences (using 0.01
as the cutoff): Wechsler Memory Scale (p 0.01), List-Immediate
recall (p .009), and Pattern Recognition (for nonverbal
memory) (0.007), and Monitoring (a component of domain Set
shifting/conceptualization) (0.01).
ANCOVA found no highly significant differences (using 0.01 as
the cutoff) in any single test between normals and controls.

Marcel B, Komaroff AL, Fagioli LR, Kornish RJ 2nd, Albert MS

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