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Improved memory efficiency seen after aerobic exercise in fibromyalgia patients
Date:11/13/2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. Areas of the brain responsible for pain processing and cognitive performance changed in fibromyalgia patients who exercised following a medication holiday, say researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center. They say the changes indicate brain functioning is more streamlined after an exercise intervention because less of the brains resources is devoted to processing bothersome fibromyalgia perceptions such as pain.

The study, presented at the Society of Neurosciences annual meeting, Neuroscience 2011, used functional MRI scans to assess changes in the brain. Researchers observed a decrease in brain activity in areas responsible for memory and pain control after fibromyalgia patients took part in an exercise regimen.

The decreased brain activity we see in the area of cognition suggests that the brain is working more efficiently, explains Brian Walitt, M.D. M.P.H., director of the Fibromyalgia Evaluation and Research Center at Georgetown University Medical Center and senior study author. We also see less brain activity in areas responsible for pain processing which might be aiding that efficiency. Walitt cautions that more research needs to be conducted before suggesting a change in clinical care for fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder characterized by widespread pain, fatigue, disordered sleep, and cognitive changes. It is regarded as an interoceptive disorder in that it has no apparent cause, Walitt says. In conditions like this, the body perceives something by mistake. The pain is not psychosomatic, but is real and likely produced by the central nervous system, he says.

To that end, the research team used fMRI to provide a definitive measure of cognitive functioning, so that we can more scientifically measure the effect of exercise, says Manish Khatiwada, M.S., who will be presenting the results. This is a novel approach to the study of fibromyalgia. (Khatiwada is working in the laboratory of co-a
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Contact: Karen Mallet
km463@georgetown.edu
Georgetown University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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