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New CFS Brain Study Shows Reduced Activity

Posted Apr 25 2012 8:47am
My Yahoo Alerts e-mail this morning was filled with articles and postings on a brand-new CFS study just released (but not yet published) by the CDC (believe it or not!).  Here's a summary of the study (pretty brief and easy to understand).

This is an interesting one.  They used an MRI to measure brain activity in a part of the brain that is responsible for motor activity, motivation, and feelings of reward.  Not surprisingly,  the CFS patients in the study had far less blood flow to this area of the brain during the test (where subjects were told they'd win money when a certain type of card was chosen). 

Several interesting points stand out here to me.  First, the study was conducted by the chief of the CDC's chronic viral diseases branch!  This is the first time I've even heard of this department, and it sure beats having CFS buried in the women's health department.

The author says it's not clear whether this reduced brain activity is a cause or effect of CFS, but I think it's very clear that this is an effect, closely connected with Orthostatic Intolerance /autonomic dysfunction which involves reduced blood volume overall and reduced blood flow to the heart and brain specifically.

And, perhaps most fascinating of all, is the fact that this particular area of the brain is associated with motivation.  I've often written here of the horrible, hard-to-describe lack of mental energy that occurs with crashes or flare-ups of ME/CFS.  I think we've all experienced the crushing lack of motivation that accompanies CFS (and many of us have blamed ourselves or had doctors or others tell us we're lazy).  It's nice to have some biological evidence to back up what we are experiencing.

Just an interesting little tidbit from today's news.  I know I haven't been writing much lately, but I've been really exhausted and overwhelmed.  We've had house guests since Friday, and I have been working frantically on a major writing project.  I hope you are all doing well this week!

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