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BACKGROUND: Cognitive function disturbance is a frequently described symptom of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). In this study, the effects of a structured exercise programme (SEP) upon cognitive function in ME/CFS patients was examined. METHODS: Out of the 53 ME/CFS patients initiating SEP 34 (64%) completed the 16 week programme. Cognitive function was assessed using a computerized battery test consisting of a Simple Reaction Time (SRT) (repeated three times) and Choice Reaction Time (CRT) measurements, a Visual Attention Test (VAT) and a Delayed Matching to Sample (DMS) assessment. RESULTS: Statistically significant improvement was noted in the third attempt to SRT in reaction time for correct answers, p = 0.045, r = 0.24. Moreover, significant improvement was noted in VAT reaction time, number of correct answers and errors committed, p = 0.02, omega = 0.03, p = 0.007, r = 0.34 and p = 0.004, r = 0.35, respectively. Non-significant changes were noted in other cognitive tests. CONCLUSIONS: A substantial number of participants were unwilling or unable to complete the exercise programme. ME/CFS patients able to complete the SEP showed improved visual attention both in terms of reaction time and correctness of responses and processing speed of simple visual stimuli.

Original publication




Journal article


Brain Sci

Publication Date





brain fog, cognitive impairment, mental function