Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and frequently associated with other symptoms. Patients with FM commonly report cognitive complaints, including memory problem. The objective of this study was to investigate the differences in neural correlates of working memory between FM patients and healthy subjects, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Nineteen FM patients and 22 healthy subjects performed an n-back memory task during MRI scan. Functional MRI data were analyzed using within- and between-group analysis. Both activated and deactivated brain regions during n-back task were evaluated. In addition, to investigate the possible effect of depression and anxiety, group analysis was also performed with depression and anxiety level in terms of Beck depression inventory (BDI) and Beck anxiety inventory (BAI) as a covariate. Between-group analyses, after controlling for depression and anxiety level, revealed that within the working memory network, inferior parietal cortex was strongly associated with the mild (r = 0.309, P = 0.049) and moderate (r = 0.331, P = 0.034) pain ratings. In addition, between-group comparison revealed that within the working memory network, the left DLPFC, right VLPFC, and right inferior parietal cortex were associated with the rating of depression and anxiety?
Our results suggest that the working memory deficit found in FM patients may be attributable to differences in neural activation of the frontoparietal memory network and may result from both pain itself and depression and anxiety associated with pain.