Background: Cognitive function disturbance is a frequently described symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). In this study, the effects of a structured exercise programme (SEP) upon cognitive function in ME/CFS patients was examined. Methods: Out of the 53 ME/CFS patients initiating SEP 34 (64%) completed the 16 week programme. Cognitive function was assessed using a computerized battery test consisting of a Simple Reaction Time (SRT) (repeated three times) and Choice Reaction Time (CRT) measurements, a Visual Attention Test (VAT) and a Delayed Matching to Sample (DMS) assessment. Results: Statistically significant improvement was noted in the third attempt to SRT in reaction time for correct answers, p = 0.045, r = 0.24. Moreover, significant improvement was noted in VAT reaction time, number of correct answers and errors committed, p = 0.02, omega = 0.03, p = 0.007, r = 0.34 and p = 0.004, r = 0.35, respectively. Non-significant changes were noted in other cognitive tests. Conclusions: A substantial number of participants were unwilling or unable to complete the exercise programme. ME/CFS patients able to complete the SEP showed improved visual attention both in terms of reaction time and correctness of responses and processing speed of simple visual stimuli.

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Keywords Brain fog, Cognitive impairment, Mental function
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Journal Brain Sciences
Zalewski, P. (Paweł), Kujawski, S. (Sławomir), Tudorowska, M. (Malwina), Morten, K. (Karl), Tafil-Klawe, M. (Małgorzata), Klawe, J.J. (Jacek J.), … Newton, J.L. (Julia L.). (2019). The impact of a structured exercise programme upon cognitive function in chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Brain Sciences, 10(1). doi:10.3390/brainsci10010004