Cognitive Slowing in Gulf War Illness

August 2016 Predicts Executive Network Hyperconnectivity - Study in a Population-Representative Sample

by Kevin Thomson
NCBI Logo COMMITTEE ON GULF WAR AND HEALTH Cognitive Slowing in Gulf War Illness Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) and Gulf War Illness (GWI)

Cognitive Slowing in Gulf War Illness Predicts Executive Network Hyperconnectivity


Cognitive slowing is a prevalent symptom observed in Gulf War Illness (GWI). The present study assessed the extent to which functional connectivity between dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and other task-relevant brain regions was predictive of GWI-related cognitive slowing. GWI patients (n = 54) and healthy veteran controls (n = 29) were assessed on performance of a processing speed task (the Digit Symbol Substitution Task; DSST) while undergoing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). GWI patients were slower on the DSST relative to controls. Bilateral DLPFC connectivity with task-relevant nodes was altered in GWI patients compared to healthy controls during DSST performance. Moreover, hypoconnectivity in these networks predicted GWI-related increases in reaction time on the DSST, whereas hypoconnectivity did not. These results suggest that GWI-related cognitive slowing reflects reduced efficiency in cortical networks.

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