Cognitive dysfunction and mental fatigue in childhood chronic fatigue syndrome--a 6-month follow-up study

Brain Dev. 2011 Nov;33(10):832-41. doi: 10.1016/j.braindev.2010.12.009. Epub 2011 May 6.


Objectives: Cognitive function was investigated in patients with childhood type chronic fatigue syndrome (CCFS) using the modified advanced trail making test (mATMT).

Methods: mATMT was performed on 19 patients with CCFS and 25 healthy controls of comparable age and sex. The effectiveness of combined treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and pharmacotherapy and its relationship to cognitive function was investigated by evaluation of Chalder's fatigue scale and behavior state before and after treatment for 6 consecutive months.

Results: All three tasks (motor skill, selective and alternative attention, and spatial working memory) of the mATMT, especially the difference in reaction time of the alternative attention task, could discriminate CCFS patients from control subjects with 70.5% accuracy (P=0.007). CCFS patients showed significantly lower alternative attention and Chalder's fatigue score before treatment (P=0.037 and 0.002, respectively). A significant improvement in performance status scores was found during the 6 months follow-up period with combined treatment with CBT and medication (P<0.001). Improvement of their cognitive symptoms was significantly correlated with improvement of alternative attention (r=0.653, P=0.002).

Conclusions: Higher-order level cognitive dysfunction affects CCFS pathogenesis. Alternative attention performance evaluated by the mATMT may be used to monitor improvement in patients with CCFS. Combined treatment with CBT and medication may be effective to improve poor attention characteristics associated with CCFS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Mental Fatigue / etiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires