Patterns of Abnormal Visual Attention in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis


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Abstract

PurposeTo experimentally assess visual attention difficulties commonly reported by those with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS).MethodsTwenty-nine ME/CFS patients and 29 controls took part in the study. Performance was assessed using the Useful Field of View (UFOV), a spatial cueing task and visual search.ResultsPatients and controls performed similarly on the processing speed subtest of the UFOV. However, patients exhibited marginally worse performance compared with controls on the divided attention subtest and significantly worse performance on the selective attention subtest. In the spatial cueing task, they were slower than controls to respond to the presence of the target, particularly when cues were invalid. They were also impaired, relative to controls, on visual search tasks.ConclusionsWe have provided experimental evidence for ME/CFS-related difficulties in directing visual attention. These findings support the subjective reports of those with ME/CFS and could represent a potential means to improve diagnosis.

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