Working memory deficits associated with chronic fatigue syndrome

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2001 Mar;7(3):285-93. doi: 10.1017/s1355617701733024.


Cognitive impairments are among the most frequently reported and least investigated components of the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). As part of a multifaceted study of the CFS, the present study investigated the cognitive functioning of chronic fatigue patients. The performance of 20 CFS patients was compared to that of controls (N = 20) on 4 tests of working memory (WM). Digit Span Forward was used to assess the storage capacity of WM. Multiple aspects of central executive functioning were assessed using several standard measures: Digit Span Backward, and Trails A and Trails B. More recently developed measures of WM were used to assess control of processing under temporal demands (working memory task) and resistance to interference (a sustained attention task). Deficits were restricted to more demanding tasks, requiring resistance to interference and efficient switching between processing routines. The overall results clearly implicate deficits in the control aspects of central executive function in CFS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests