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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2014 Mar;69(2):199-208. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbs122. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Cognitive performance in women aged 50 years and older with and without fibromyalgia.

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  • 1Correspondence should be addressed to Barbara Cherry, Department of Psychology, California State University, Fullerton, P.O. Box 6846, Fullerton, CA 92834-6846. E-mail:



Persons with fibromyalgia (FM) report having cognitive dysfunction. Neuropsychological performance was compared across a variety of domains in 43 women with FM (Mage = 63 years) and in 44 women without FM (Mage = 65 years).


Measures included explicit memory (Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer's Disease [CERAD] immediate/delayed recall, delayed recognition), aspects of executive function including interference/inhibition (Stroop Color/Word test), working memory (Digit Span Forward/Backward), set-shifting/complex sequencing (Trails B), monitoring (verbal fluency: naming animals), processing speed (Trails A, Digit Symbol Substitution Coding), and problem solving (Everyday Problems Test).


Women with FM performed more poorly than controls on executive function (Stroop Color/Word) and one processing speed measure (Digit Symbol Substitution Coding).


Results partly support altered cognitive function in FM. Mixed findings across cognitive domains among individuals with or without FM is consistent with the literature and suggest that factors beyond those typically controlled for (e.g., heterogeneity in FM) may be influencing findings. Future research is warranted.


Chronic pain; Cognition; Executive functions; Fibromyalgia; Processing speed.

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