Major Cognitive Problems found in large Norwegian "CFS" Adolescent Study


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
" executive functions were significantly worse in the chronicfatigue group"

Even Wyller - using his own less restrictive definition of "chronic fatigue" - is finding pronounced cognitve problems in adolescents. The same type of problems, by the way, that typically occur in adults - slowed information processing and reduced working memory. Processing speed was completely whacked - with much slower processing speeds in the ME/CFS adolescents.

Anxiety and depression had no effect on cognitive functioning - the reduced cognitive function was the effect of either.
Arch Dis Child. 2015 Mar 19. pii: archdischild-2014-306764. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2014-306764. [Epub ahead of print]Cognitive dysfunction in adolescents with chronic fatigue: a cross-sectional study. Sulheim D1, Fagermoen E2, Sivertsen ØS3, Winger A4, Wyller VB5, Øie MG6.


To compare cognitive function in adolescents with chronic fatigue with cognitive function in healthy controls (HC).

120 adolescents with chronic fatigue (average age 15.4 years; range 12-18) and 39 HC (average age 15.2 years; range 12-18).

The adolescents completed a neurocognitive test battery measuring processing speed, working memory, cognitive inhibition, cognitive flexibility, verbal learning and verbal memory, and questionnaires addressing demographic data, depression symptoms, anxiety traits,fatigue and sleep problems. Parents completed the Behaviour Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF), which measures the everyday executive functions of children.

Adolescents with chronic fatigue had impaired cognitive function compared to HC regarding processing speed (mean difference 3.3, 95% CI 1.1 to 5.5, p=0.003), working memory (-2.4, -3.7 to -1.1, p<0.001), cognitive inhibition response time (6.2, 0.8 to 11.7, p=0.025) and verbal learning (-1.7, -3.2 to -0.3, p=0.022). The BRIEF results indicated that executive functions were significantly worse in the chronicfatigue group compared to the HC (11.2, 8.2 to 14.3, p<0.001). Group differences remained largely unaffected when adjusted for symptoms of depression, anxiety traits and sleep problems.

Adolescents with chronic fatigue had impaired cognitive function of clinical relevance, measured by objective cognitive tests, in comparison to HC. Working memory and processing speed may represent core difficulties.

Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

Get Our Free ME/CFS and FM Blog!

New Threads

Forum Tips

Support Our Work



Shopping on For HR

Latest Resources