Phoenix Rising - Cort Johnson's Column
...Presenting complex chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) research in a way we can all understand.
Monday, May 21st, 2012:
A Very Unrewarding Ilness: CDC Study Suggests Reward Center of the Brain is Rather Quiet in CFS
Dr. Ronald Glaser - Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Pathophysiology of EBV Infection
by Cort Johnson
Chronic fatigue syndrome does appear to still be something of a hot media item…The latest CDC study made the news before it was published or even presented at a big conference. (This study was actually presented at the IACFS/ME Conference but somehow it didn’t make it out to the news wire there)
This study found that blood flows to the basal ganglia, a part of the brain involved in both motor activity and reward (what a combination)…was significantly reduced in people with ME/CFS during a card game. .Importantly, the more severely ill patients had low bloods to that area of the brain.
The study suggested that not only was ME/CFS a miserable disorder to have but that the portion of the brain that guides movement was tweaked…The news story focused on the ‘reward’ aspects of the basal ganglia but basal ganglia problems also play a role in other severely fatiguing disorders such as Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
Dr. Unger, the CDC CFS chief, was saying all the right things “Every carefully controlled scientific study on CFS helps raise the credibility of this very complex illness. Even though our findings are preliminary . . . they do support a biologic [theory] about this illness.”
“A strength of the study is that we used some of the newest technology available to look at the function of regions of the brain that may be involved with CFS,” she said. “We hope the impact of our study will be to encourage further basic science investigation of CFS.”
We covered Andrew Miller’s presentation on the CDC study at the IACFS/ME conference here. Miller focus was a bit different and he believes that an infection may very well have triggered the basal ganglia problems in ME/CFS.
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