Cognitive Dysfunction in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: a Review of Recent Evidence

  • Erin Cvejic
  • Rachael C. Birch
  • Uté Vollmer-ConnaEmail author
Chronic Pain (R Staud, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Chronic Pain


Cognitive difficulties represent a common and debilitating feature of the enigmatic chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). These difficulties manifest as self-reported problems with attention, memory, and concentration and present objectively as slowed information processing speed particularly on complex tasks requiring sustained attention. The mechanisms underlying cognitive dysfunction remain to be established; however, alterations in autonomic nervous system activity and cerebral blood flow have been proposed as possibilities. Heterogeneity in the experience of cognitive impairment, as well as differences in the methods utilised to quantify dysfunction, may contribute to the difficulties in establishing plausible biological underpinnings. The development of a brief neurocognitive battery specifically tailored to CFS and adoption by the international research community would be beneficial in establishing a profile of cognitive dysfunction. This could also provide better insights into the underlying biological mechanisms of cognitive dysfunction in CFS and enhance the development of targeted treatments.


Chronic fatigue syndrome Cognitive performance Neurocognition Fatigue Response speed Executive functioning 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Cvejic
    • 1
  • Rachael C. Birch
    • 1
  • Uté Vollmer-Conna
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South Wales MedicineSydneyAustralia

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