4 years ago

Neuropsychological characteristics of Gulf War illness: A meta-analysis

Patricia A. Janulewicz, Maxine H. Krengel, Kimberly Sullivan, Alexis Maule, Emily Sisson, Joanna Cirillo, Timothy Heeren, Roberta F. White

by Patricia A. Janulewicz, Maxine H. Krengel, Alexis Maule, Roberta F. White, Joanna Cirillo, Emily Sisson, Timothy Heeren, Kimberly Sullivan


Gulf War illness (GWI) is a disorder related to military service in the 1991 GW. Prominent symptoms include fatigue, pain and cognitive problems. These symptoms were reported by GW Veterans (GWV) immediately after the war and were eventually incorporated into case definitions of GWI. Neuropsychological function in GW veterans has been studied both among deployed GWV and in GWV diagnosed with GWI. Results have been inconsistent between and across GW populations. The purpose of the present investigation was to better characterize neuropsychological function in this veteran population.


Meta-analysis techniques were applied to published studies on neuropsychological performance in GWV to identify domains of dysfunction in deployed vs. non-deployed GW-era veterans and symptomatic vs. non-symptomatic GWVs.


Significantly decreased performance was found in three functional domains: attention and executive function, visuospatial skills and learning/memory.


These findings document the cognitive decrements associated with GW service, validate current GWI case definitions using cognitive criteria, and identify test measures for use in GWI research assessing GWI treatment trial efficacy.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177121

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