Attention and information processing efficiency in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 1999 Oct;21(5):709-29. doi: 10.1076/jcen.21.5.709.875.


In this study a battery of attentional tests and a verbal memory task were administered to outpatients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) in order to evaluate aspects of attention that have not been explored in this group to date. In addition, this study was designed to further examine memory function and to extend the few reports investigating the rate of cognitive processing independent of motor speed and the possibility of a modality-specific impairment of information processing. Twenty-nine patients with CFS and 22 healthy controls matched for age, gender, intelligence, and education were included in this study. The results show that patients with CFS do not seem to be impaired for modification of phasic arousal level, nor for visual selective attention requiring shifting of attention in the visuospatial field. The results further support the presence of reduced information processing speed and efficiency, and strengthen the evidence of a global non-modality-specific attentional dysfunction in patients with CFS. In this study the poor performance of patients with CFS on recall of verbal information was due to poor initial storage rather than to a retrieval failure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / psychology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Reaction Time
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Verbal Learning