Cognitive dysfunction in fibromyalgia (FM) encompasses objective cognitive difficulties, as measured in neuropsychological tests, and self-reported cognitive complaints. Although it has been suggested that FM patients display problems in working memory, the data are inconsistent, and the overall working memory status of the patients is unclear. It is also not clear whether the working memory problems are related to cognitive complaints or how the dyscognition is affected by the characteristic clinical symptoms of FM.
To clarify these aspects, we explored the neuropsychological performance for different components of working memory and the subjective self-perception of cognitive status in a sample of 38 women with FM. They were compared with a matched group of 32 healthy women.
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Our findings suggested that the FM patients do not differ from healthy controls in their overall working memory functioning. Only a poor performance was found in a single task of visuospatial working memory, mediated by the presence of depressive symptoms, fatigue and pain. The FM patients also displayed a higher level of perception of cognitive difficulties than healthy controls, and this difference was mediated by depression and fatigue. Furthermore, cognitive complaints in FM patients were only associated with a lower verbal WM capacity.
FM patients have a subtle specific impairment in their working memory functioning, as well as elevated concern about their cognitive status. These findings suggest a disconnection between neuropsychological performance and subjective complaints. In FM patients, clinical variables such as pain, fatigue, and depression play an important role in dyscognition, as assessed by both objective and subjective measures, and should be taken into account in future research.
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Source: Pidal-Miranda M, González-Villar AJ, Carrillo-de-la-Peña MT, Andrade E, Rodríguez-Salgado D. Broad cognitive complaints but subtle objective working memory impairment in fibromyalgia patients. PeerJ. 2018 Nov 21; 6:e5907. doi: 10.7717/peerj.5907. eCollection 2018.