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Emotional conflict processing in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome: A pilot study using functional magnetic resonance imaging

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By L. A. Wortinger et al. 
 
Abstract
 
INTRODUCTION: Studies of neurocognition suggest that abnormalities in cognitive control contribute to the pathophysiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in adolescents, yet these abnormalities remain poorly understood at the neurobiological level. Reports indicate that adolescents with CFS are significantly impaired in conflict processing, a primary element of cognitive control.
 
METHOD: In this study, we examine whether emotional conflict processing is altered on behavioral and neural levels in adolescents with CFS and a healthy comparison group. Fifteen adolescent patients with CFS and 24 healthy adolescent participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing an emotional conflict task that involved categorizing facial affect while ignoring overlaid affect labeled words.
 
RESULTS: Adolescent CFS patients were less able to engage the left amygdala and left midposterior insula (mpINS) in response to conflict than the healthy comparison group. An association between accuracy interference and conflict-related reactivity in the amygdala was observed in CFS patients. A relationship between response time interference and conflict-related reactivity in the mpINS was also reported. Neural responses in the amygdala and mpINS were specific to fatigue severity.
 
CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that adolescent CFS patients displayed deficits in emotional conflict processing. Our results suggest abnormalities in affective and cognitive functioning of the salience network, which might underlie the pathophysiology of adolescent CFS.
 
Source: Wortinger LA, Endestad T, Melinder AM, Øie MG, Sulheim D, Fagermoen E, Wyller VB. Emotional conflict processing in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome: A pilot study using functional magnetic resonance imaging. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2016 Sep 20:1-14. [Epub ahead of print]

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One thought on “Emotional conflict processing in adolescent chronic fatigue syndrome: A pilot study using functional magnetic resonance imaging”

  1. JanineV says:

    It always amazes me how pervasive the effects of CFS can be. I am in my late 40’s and have had CFS for about 19 years. I cannot handle conflict very well at all. In fact sometimes my reactions are outright humorous. I can’t listen to even cheesy role plays of people arguing without my stress level sky-rocketing. The same happens when my husband puts on an angry face to tease me. It sends me into escape mode. When I am in actual conflict with someone, I get very confused–almost like my brain shuts down– but maybe the connections just aren’t being made as this study seems to suggest. Living with two strong-willed teenage daughters has probably not been helpful to my health. This study may explain a lot!

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