Rainbow at shoreline

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association, a 501(c)3 founded in 1985, exists to meet the needs of patients with CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or FM (Fibromyalgia), their families and loved ones. The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association works to educate health-care providers and the general public regarding these severely-disabling physical illnesses. We also support patients and their families and advocate for more effective treatment and research.

Advances in brain functioning

Session 9

Elke van Hoof (Brussels, Belgium) discussed the issue that CFS influences cognitive functioning, attention and memory. There seems to be slower information processing. Her study examined reaction speed in CFS, and looked at whether this is negatively influenced by external stimuli such as physical complaints. It was found that CFS patients were more distracted by their bodily focus, which in turn negatively influenced cognitive performance. This slow processing speed is partially responsible for the cognitive malfunction in CFS. Tasks requiring complex processing are affected.

EEG data can discriminate 905 of CFS patients from healthy controls and patients with depression according to work by Frank Duffy (Boston, USA). The diagnostic label of CFS may often be misapplied in community practices, and this can lead to data discrepancies. This study has shown that CFS is a condition causing objective and measurable perturbations in CNS function.

Cognitive function in adolescents and young adults with CFS was presented by Laura Younis (Melbourne, Australia). The CFS patients did perform as well as controls on educational tests (verbal and mathematical). These findings were unexpected as the tests were challenging and fatiguing and involved a large neuropsychological test battery. These patients had reported more school absenteeism, depression, sleep disturbance, cognitive dysfunction and other symptoms than controls. Strong motivation to perform well may not reflect typical performance of these students if they had been in an educational setting.

Assessment of amino acid neurotransmitter function was performed in CFS, major depression and healthy volunteers and was presented by Dikoma Shungu (New York, USA). There were no significant abnormalities in regional amino acid neurotransmitter function in CFS. There was confirmation of reductions in occipital GABA in major depressive disorder.

Notice about names

The Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association would like to clarify the use of the various acronyms for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Chronic Fatigue & Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) and  Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) on this site. When we generate our own articles on the illness, we will refer to it as ME/CFS, the term now generally used in the United States. When we are reporting on someone else’s report, we will use the term they use. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) are currently using ME/CFS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are calling the illness CFS.

Until there is consensus on a name for the illness, the Massachusetts CFIDS/ME & FM Association name will not change.