Behavioural effects of infectious mononucleosis

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The aim of the present study was to provide preliminary information

on the acute and chronic effects of infectious mononucleosis

(IM) on memory, attention, psychomotor performance and mood.

These issues were examined by comparing individuals with

acute IM, those who had the initial illness some months

before, and matched healthy controls. Objective measures of

memory, attention, motor skills and visual functions were

obtained, as were subjective reports of mood. The results

showed selective effects of acute IM on performance and mood,

with the profile of impairments being very similar to those

observed in previous studies of influenza. Different

impairments were observed in subjects who had the primary

illness several months before, and the effects observed in

this group were similar to those observed in recent studies

of chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Both acute and chronic

IM subjects reported similar levels of symptoms and

psychopathology, with both groups having greater scores than

the controls. However, the performance impairments did not

reflect symptoms or psychopathology. One may conclude that

the study of IM will provide important data on both the acute

and longer lasting effects of viral infections on the brain

and behaviour.

Hall SR, Smith AP

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