Pincus Cognitive Symptoms Inventory

What about memory complaints? We use the Pincus Cognitive Symptoms Inventory, which is simply ask patients what they complain about with respect to their memory. What are their problems? We also have a longer more elaborate cognitive inventory called the Meta-Memory Scale that I’m not going to go into here, that will give us an even better handle on the memory complaints of fibromyalgia patients. But here’s what’s interesting, I think, of the memory complaints of fibromyalgia patients. The fibromyalgia patients report that their memory is worse than the older adults, you can see that they have more memory complaints than the older adults yet they are performing like the older adults. Now one could take this as a symptom of whining, but think about it. Think about the fact that you are a 30-year-old and your memory is performing like a 50-year-old. It makes sense that people … their memory is not age-appropriate and even though the older adults complain more about their memory than the young adults – as they should, because their memory actually is worse. Complaint is the wrong word. They self-report more problems with memory, the old adults do, and they do have more problems with memory. The fibromyalgia patients are self-reporting even more problems than the old adults, but that makes sense to me because their memory problems are not age-appropriate and they are very unusual for people and out of range for people in their age group.

So what can we conclude? I think we can conclude first that fibromyalgia patients show normal speed of processing, similar to age-matched controls and that’s a very important finding. I think the finding that they are like the age-matched controls in some ways has a lot of credibility and potential for interpreting the differences where they are not like the age-matched controls. The FM patients perform significantly worse than age-matched controls and very much like older adults on measures of working memory, verbal fluency and long-term memory. Quite interestingly, they perform more poorly on vocabulary tests than carefully matched age controls and more poorly than older adults. In addition, to sort of provide you with a broader window on the meaning of these findings, FM patients in general show problems with cognitive tasks that are primarily controlled by prefrontal cortex. This vocabulary deficit appears to be unique to the FM patients and is not typical, as I mentioned, of either old or young adults. And as I mentioned, they have greater memory complaints than the elderly despite similar memory performance to the elderly.

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