The data on cognitive function

Now I’d like to turn to the data on cognitive function. The first data that I am going to show you is this speed of processing task. As I mentioned to you, we see speed of processing as fundamental to all of cognition. We take it as almost an overall measure of neuronal integrity, or sort of general neurologic intact-ness. It’s a very simple task. In this particular task subjects are given columns and columns of these items and they are just told to say if these items same or different. On the number of items that they can … it’s a simple perceptual scanning task. The number of items that they can complete in tow minutes is the measure of their speed of processing. This is an incredibly reliable powerful measure. If I could know only one thing about a person and if I could be only one thing cognitively I would pick being fast. Because it controls so much other variants in cognition. So how do the fibromyalgia patients look? This is very interesting. You can see that the older controls are only 20 years older than the fibromyalgia patients, score reliably lower than the age-matched controls and that the FM patients look exactly like the age-matched controls. So the fibromyalgia patients, this overall measure that I’m saying is an overall measure of intact-ness or neuronal integrity, the fibromyalgia patients look exactly like their age-matched controls. So their speed of processing is intact and I feel very confident about this because we had three different speed tasks in our battery. They are highly reliable tasks.

So the next task we gave subjects was a working memory task and we see working memory as sort of the horsepower, the mental horsepower, mental energy you bring to a cognitive situation. It’s sort of your online processing power. This is an example of the working memory test. The subjects will say, the experimentalist will say, “The fans at the football game wore hats and scarves” and then a question will flash up on the screen – the subjects are working at a computer – “Where are the fans?” Well, you know, the answer is “They are at the football game” so they’ll pick A. At the same time they have to remember the last word in the sentence. Then another sentence will be read and a question about it will flash up and they’ll answer it and they’ll have to remember the last word in the sentence. So now their load is “scarves and city”. Then recall will come up on the screen and they have to answer “scarves and city” and they might see as many … some subjects can get as many as eight or nine of these in a row correct. In other words, they can answer eight questions in a row and retain the eight last items in the sentence without error. How ever many they can get correct like that is … it goes up one by one. It’s their working memory capacity and we have three measures of that. As you can see that when we looked at their working memory capacity, which again is utterly central to all of cognition, we do find that the FM patients look exactly like the elderly and they perform significantly worse than the age-matched controls, suggesting some deficit in what we would call this processing resource, or central executive function.

Here we have long-term memory. In this case subjects were given lists of words. They were given 16 words and they were asked to recall as many words as they can. The number of words recalled far exceeds 16 because this was summed across three lists. Here you can again see that very much like the working memory measures, the FM patients look like older adult controls and are performing along with the older controls significantly worse than the age-matched controls.

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