Systematic review and meta-analysis of cognitive impairment in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), by Mehdi Aoun Sebaiti, Mathieu Hainselin, Yannick Gounden, Carmen Adella Sirbu, Slobodan Sekulic, Lorenzo Lorusso, Luis Nacul & François Jérôme Authier in Scientific 12: 2157 (2022) []


Research abstract:

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is commonly associated with cognitive complaints. To bring out the neuropsychological symptomatology inherent to ME/CFS, we conducted a systematic review according to PRISMA and MOOSE guidelines of the literature through the analysis of 764 studies published between 1988 and 2019 by using PubMed Central website and Clarivate analytics platform.

We performed a meta-analysis to delineate an idea of the neuropsychological profile inherent in ME/CFS.

The clinical picture typically affects visuo-spatial immediate memory (g = − 0.55, p = 0.007), reading speed (g = − 0.82, p = 0.0001) and graphics gesture (g = − 0.59, p = 0.0001). Analysis also revealed difficulties in several processes inherent in episodic verbal memory (storage, retrieval, recognition) and visual memory (recovery) and a low efficiency in attentional abilities.

Executive functions seemed to be little or not affected and instrumental functions appeared constantly preserved. With regard to the complexity and heterogeneity of the cognitive phenotype, it turns out that determining a sound clinical picture of ME/CFS cognitive profile must go through a neuropsychological examination allowing a complete evaluation integrating the notion of agreement between the choice and the number of tests and the complexity intrinsic to the pathology.

Table 12 Take home message

1 Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) commonly associates with cognitive complaints
2 Neuropsychological testing is required for appropriately descripting and quantifying the cognitive impairment in ME/CFS patients
3 ME/CFS-associated cognitive impairment typically affects visuo-spatial immediate memory, reaction time, reading speed and the speed of the graphic gesture;
4 Episodic verbal and visual memories and attentional abilities may be also impaired
5 Instrumental functions appear constantly preserved


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