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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fibromyalgia causes Accelerated Brain Gray Matter loss!

Wow, I just came upon a fairly new research study concerning Fibromyalgia that is really disheartening! <:(

According to the study called, "Accelerated Brain Gray Matter Loss in Fibromyalgia Patients:Premature Aging of the Brain", the researchers (Kuchiad,Schweinhardt,Seminowicz,Wood,Chizh, and Buschnell, state:

"Accumulating evidence now suggests that fibromyalgia may be associated with CNS (Central Nervous System), dysfunction!" These researchers studies MRI brain images of people with fibromyalgia and compared them to 10 people who do not have the disease. The conclusion reached by these researchers is that "fibromyalgia patients had significantly less gray matter volume and showed a 3.3 times greater age-associated decrease in gray-matter than healthy controls!!! The longer the individuals had fibromyalgia the greater the gray matter loss,with each year being equivalent to 9.5 times the loss of normal aging!!!!!
"In addition, fibromyalgia patients demonstrated significantly less gray matter density than healthy controls in several brain regions,including the cingulate,insular and medial frontal cortices, and parahippocampai gyri.The neurological changes that we see in fibromyalgia patients contribute additional evidence of CNS involvement in fibromyalgia!! In particular,fibromyalgia appears to be associated with the acceleration of age-related changes in the very substance of the brain!!!!.Moreover,the regions in which we demonstrate objective changes may be functionally linked to core features of the disorder including affective disturbances and chronic widespread pain!!!


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So finally science and research appears to be on the side of those of with who have this awful disease! Now doctors, insurance companies, and those people who were skeptical of our claims of pain, and problems with our cognitive functioning, can no longer tell us what we are experiencing could not be happening!


I  was a bit unsure of what gray matter in our brain does and is.So I did some research online and found out this about it.


"The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perceptions, such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions and speech." source: http://www.brainexplorer.org/brain_atlas/Brainatlas_index.shtml)


Is it any wonder then why those of us who have fibromyalgia have problems with our memory, have problems using our bodies due to loss of muscle control caused by this condition, and have problems finding words or actually communicating with others during the day??  I found this thought had been stated in another way at the following website:


The cerebellum is the hind part of the brain. It is made up of gray, unmyelinated cells on the exterior and white, myelinated cells in the interior. The cerebellum coordinates muscular movements and, along with the midbrain, monitors posture. It is essential to the control of movement of the human body in space."  (source:http://www.mamashealth.com/organs/brain.asp)


The Cerebral Cortex is another part of the brain.At the following website I found the statement:
The Cerebral Cortex is the the outermost layer of the cerebral hemisphere which is composed of gray matter. Cortices are asymmetrical. Both hemispheres are able to analyze sensory data, perform memory functions, learn new information, form thoughts and make decisions.  (source: http://www.waiting.com/brainfunction.html)


This statement indicates to me why those of us who have fibromyalgia have problems with our memory, have problems trying to learn something new (even if we  try our hardest!), have problems thinking and have problems making decisions!!


The website
http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/C/CNS.html 
indicates that "gray matter consists of  masses of the cell bodies and dendrites — each covered with synapses." and at the following website
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515926/ I found this statement:


" gray matter function can be assessed through more language-based reasoning and memory measures. Language is generally considered a cortical function, usually in the left hemisphere, and the deep gray matter of the hippocampus is also known to be involved in verbal memory>


So if you have fibromyalgia and you have noticed that since you have been diagnosed with it, you have problems relating to solving problems and analyzing things well now you know that these problems could be due to your fibromyalgia! To be more precise I found the following definition of verbal reasoning at this website:http://learningdisabilities.about.com/od/glossar1/g/verbalintellige.htm





"Verbal intelligence is the ability to analyze information and solve problems using language-based reasoning.
Verbal tasks may involve concepts such as:
Verbal tasks involve skills such as:
  • The ability to listen to and recall spoken information;
  • Understanding the meaning of written or spoken information;
  • Solving language based problems of a literary, logical, or social type;
  • Understanding the relationships between language concepts and performing language analogies or comparisons; and
  • The ability to perform complex language-based analysis.
Verbal reasoning is important in most aspects of school work. Reading and language arts tasks required verbal reasoning skills. Even the more abstract courses such as math and physics require verbal reasoning skills, as most concepts are either introduced orally by the teacher or introduced in written form in a textbook."
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This certainly to me explains why I have problems with my auditory memory. It sure is frustrating not to be able to remember what someone said to me, even a minute or two after they have said it, or if you cannot remember what a news broadcaster just said then this could be due to your fibromyalgia!
If you have fibromyalgia and you are presently in school or trying to learn something and having difficulty, again this could suggest your fibromyalgia has caused changes to your brain which will now make learning more difficult, if you hear it or read it (reading is an auditory memory process!)
I would now like to go back to this statement which I posted earlier in this blog entry:
""In addition, fibromyalgia patients demonstrated significantly less gray matter density than healthy controls in several brain regions,including the cingulate,insular and medial frontal cortices, and parahippocampai gyri."
and I will give you some information I have found concerning the functions of these parts of the brain:
(a)the Cingulate- -Cingulum means belt in Latin. The name was likely chosen because this cortex, in great part, surrounds the corpus callosum. Cingulate is an adjective (cingularis or cingulatus). source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cingulate_cortex

(b)The insular cortex (often called insula, insulary cortex or insular lobe) is a cerebral cortex structure deep within the lateral fissure between the temporal lobe and the frontal lobe. The overlying cortical areas are the opercula (meaning "lids") and these are formed from parts of the enclosing frontal, temporal and parietal lobes.
The insular cortex is divided into two parts: the larger anterior insula and the smaller posterior insula in which more than a dozen field areas have been identified.
The insula plays a role in diverse functions usually linked to emotion or the regulation of the body's homeostasis. These functions include perception, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive functioning, and interpersonal experience. the right anterior insula aids interoceptive awareness of body states, such as the ability to time one's own heart beat. Moreover, greater right anterior insular gray matter volume correlates with increased accuracy in this subjective sense of the inner body, and with negative emotional experience.[2] It is also involved in the control of blood pressure,[3] particularly during and after exercise.[3] It is also activated when the brain perceives greater exertion.[4][5]


The insular cortex also is where the sensation of pain is judged as to its degree.[6] Further, the insula is where a person imagines pain when looking at images of painful events while thinking about them happening to one's own body.[7] Those with irritable bowel syndrome have abnormal processing of visceral pain in the insular cortex related to dysfunctional inhibition of pain within the brain.[8] I n motor control it contributes to hand and eye motor movement,[19][20] swallowing,[21] gastric motility,[22] and speech articulation.[23][24] It has been identified as a "central command” centre that ensures that heart rate and blood pressure increase at the onset of exercise.[25] Research upon conversation links it to the capacity for long and complex spoken sentences.[26] It is also involved in motor learning[27] and has been identified as playing a role in the motor recovery from stroke.[28]
source: 




Wow what a revealing statement this last bit of information I have posted is! If our insular cortex is being affected due to our fibromyalgia, no wonder that again we have problems with cognitive functioning, awareness of our body states and lack of ability to know that we have exerted ourselves to much in an activity we were performing!! And even more important is that due to our fibromyalgia our sensation of pain and its degree is adversely affected due to the changes in the white matter in our brain! So can be our hand-eye coordination, our ability to articulate speech and our ability to learn while moving our body through space!
(c) The medial frontal cortices
"Learning from errors is a critical feature of human cognition. It underlies our ability to adapt to changing environmental demands and to tune behavior for optimal performance. The posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) has been implicated in the evaluation of errors to control behavior, although it has not previously been shown that activity in this region predicts learning from errors." (source:




I hope this information is useful to those of you who have read it and have fibromyalgia.

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.