Normalizing memory recall in Fibromyalgia Syndrome with rehearsal
A recently published study has found that patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome have a significant level of cognitive deficit that could be missed by conventional measures and that rehearsal is a useful tool for Fibro patients to overcome recall difficulties with distraction.
The aim of the study was to examine the impact of distraction on the retention of rehearsed information in patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome (Fibro).
For the study, a neurocognitive examination was performed on 134 patients presenting with memory loss: 91 with Fibro and 43 control subjects.
Four neurocognitive measures free of distraction, along with 2 measures with added distraction, were completed.
Differences in the retention of rehearsed and unrehearsed information with a source of distraction present were calculated.
The researchers found that patients with Fibro showed normal cognitive functioning on verbal memory tests free of distraction.
However, they also found that adding a source of distraction caused unrefreshed information to be lost at a disproportionate rate in patients with Fibro.
Over 87% of patients with Fibro scored in the impaired range on a task of unrehearsed verbal memory.
But adding a source of distraction to well-rehearsed information produced a normal rate of recall in the Fibro patients.
"Rehearsal mechanisms are intact in patients with [Fibromyalgia Syndrome] and play beneficial roles in managing interference from a source of distraction.
In the absence of rehearsal, a source of distraction added to unrefreshed information signals a remarkable level of cognitive deficit in [Fibromyalgia Syndrome] that goes undetected by conventionally relied-upon neurocognitive measures.
We present a theory to promote understanding of the cognitive deficit of people with [Fibromyalgia Syndrome] based on reduced speed of lexical activation and poor recall after distraction."
As well as indicating that rehearsal is a useful tool to help Fibro patients deal with the cognitive difficulties associated with condition, this piece of research is interesting because it highlights that conventionally relied-upon neurocognitive measures will often miss significant cognitve difficulties in Fibro patients.
Physicians looking to assess the neurocognitive difficulties of Fibro patients should learn from this study that a wider range of measures than normal will be needed. The neurocognitive difficulties associated with Fibro can be severe and can be very distressing to patients: they should not be underestimated or ignored by physicians.
- Leavitt F, Katz RS. Normalizing memory recall in fibromyalgia with rehearsal: A distraction-counteracting effect. Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Jun 15;61(6):740-4.