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Clin Neurophysiol. 1999 Nov;110(11):1883-91.

Corticomotor excitability and perception of effort during sustained exercise in the chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Australian Neuromuscular Research Institute, QE II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA, Australia.



We have investigated the possibility of a central basis for the complaints of fatigue and poor exercise tolerance in subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


Transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex was used to measure sequential changes in motor evoked potential (MEP) amplitude, post-excitatory silent period (SP) duration and twitch force of the biceps brachii muscle during a 20% maximum isometric elbow flexor contraction maintained to the point of exhaustion. Ten patients with post-infectious CFS and 10 age- and sex-matched control subjects were studied. Results were analysed using non-parametric repeated measures analysis of variance (Friedman's test) and Mann-Whitney U-tests for intra- and inter-group comparisons respectively.


Mean endurance time for the CFS group was lower (13.1+/-3.2 min, mean +/- SEM) than controls (18.6+/-2.6 min, P < 0.05) and CFS subjects reported higher ratings of perceived exertion. During the exercise period MEP amplitude and SP duration increased in both groups but to a lesser extent in CFS subjects. Interpolated twitch force amplitude also increased during exercise, being more pronounced in CFS subjects.


The findings are in keeping with an exercise-related diminution in central motor drive in association with an increased perception of effort in CFS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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