It’s estimated that over a million Americans are impacted by chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition characterized by continuing and extreme fatigue without any other diagnosed cause. Chronic fatigue syndrome is still not completely understood in spite of many years of scientific research. A study has however found different brain responses in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome when compared with healthy individuals, suggesting a chronic fatigue syndrome and biologic functional response association.
The results show a decreased activation in response to reward of a part of the brain called the basal ganglia in individuals having chronic fatigue syndrome. The level of the reduced activation was also linked to the measured fatigue level of each individual. The basal ganglia are situated at the base of the brain and are related to various functions, which includes motivation and motor activity. Conditions impacting basal ganglia are frequently linked to fatigue. These results provide information that could eventually result in better chronic fatigue syndrome treatments.
18 individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome were recruited for the study, and also 41 healthy individuals without any chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. Each individual had functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), a method of brain scanning which measures activity in several areas of the brain by blood flow, while playing a card game designed to stimulate reward feelings. The individuals were each informed that they would win a bit of money if guessing correctly whether a preselected card was black or red. The card was then presented while basal ganglia blood flow was measured during losing and winning hands.
Individuals having chronic fatigue syndrome had a lot less change in blood flow to the basal ganglia between losing and winning compared to the healthy individuals. When scores for the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory were checked, a survey frequently made use of for documenting chronic fatigue syndrome as well as a variety of other conditions, it was discovered that the level of an individual’s fatigue was linked to brain activity changes between losing and winning. Individuals having more fatigue had the least change.