[Note: this research appears to break analysis of cognitive function (‘brain fog’) into 3 ‘attentional networks’: alertness, processing, and reaction.]
Cognitive complaints are common among subjects with fibromyalgia (FM). Yet, few studies have been able to document these deficits with cognitive tasks.
A main limitation of existing studies is that “attention” has been broadly defined and the tasks used to measure attention are not designed to cover all the main components of the attentional system.
Research on attention has identified three primary functions of attention, known as alerting, orienting and executive functioning.
This study used the attentional network test-interactions task to explore whether and which of the three attentional networks are altered in FM.
Results showed that FM patients have:
• Impaired executive control (greater interference),
• Reduced vigilance (slower overall reaction time) and
• Greater alertness (higher reduction in errors after a warning cue).
Vigilance and alertness showed several relations with depression, anxiety and sleep quality. Sleep dysfunction was a significant predictor for alertness, whereas there were no significant predictors for vigilance.
These findings highlight that the treatment of sleep difficulties in FM patients may help with some of their cognitive complaints.
Source: Psychology & Health, Mar 3, 2011. PMID: 21391131, by Miro E, Lupianez J, Hita E, Martinez MP, Sanchez AI, Buela-Casal G. Department of Personality, Assessment and Psychological Treatment, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.