Single-Photon Emission Computerized Tomography and Neurocognitive Function in Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Abstract

Objective

The purposes of this study were to compare functional imaging under control and experimental conditions among patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and healthy persons and to examine perceived and objective performance on a test of attention and working memory previously found to be difficult for persons with CFS.

Methods

Single-photon emission computerized tomography scans were completed on 15 subjects with CFS and 15 healthy persons twice: at rest and when performing the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT).

Results

No group differences were found for performance on the PASAT despite CFS subjects’ perceptions of exerting more mental effort to perform the task than healthy subjects. Inspection of the aggregate scans by group and task suggested a pattern of diffuse regional cerebral blood flow among subjects with CFS in comparison with the more focal pattern of regional cerebral blood flow seen among healthy subjects. Between-group region-of-interest analysis revealed that although CFS subjects showed less perfusion in the anterior cingulate region, the change in CFS subjects’ activation of the left anterior cingulate region during the PASAT was greater than that observed for healthy subjects. The differences were not attributable to lesser effort by the subjects with CFS, confounding effects of mood perturbation, or to poorer performance on the experimental task.

Conclusions

Further research regarding CFS subjects’ diffuse cerebral perfusion and its relationship to inefficient neuropsychological performance is warranted.

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