URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755296617300601 Greater specificity of activity memories in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis: Implications for exercise-based treatment Maryanne Martin, Iana Alexeeva(*) - Department of Experimental Psychology, Medical Sciences Division, University of Oxford, St Edmund Hall, Queen's Ln, Oxford, OX1 4AR, United Kingdom * Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Received 5 July 2017 Revised 26 October 2017 Accepted 9 December 2017 Available online 16 December 2017 Abstract Purpose Autobiographical memory is crucial to goal attainment, thus it may influence coping with chronic illness. Autobiographical memory was investigated in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and healthy people. Two contrasting hypotheses were tested. On the basis of Williams and colleagues' model of overgeneral memories in depression, and the high co-morbidity between CFS/ME and depression, we predicted overgeneral autobiographical memories in the CFS/ME group. In contrast, on the basis of a postulated oversensitization of the central nervous system in the CFS/ME population and their amplified attention towards anything that might threaten their energy balance, such as activity, we predicted that autobiographical activity memories in CFS/ME would be more specific than in healthy controls. Methods We employed modified cued autobiographic recall in CFS/ME (N = 89) and healthy (N = 61) participants, who were asked to recall particular past events when they experienced happiness, pain, fatigue, or were physically active. Levels of psychological distress, rumination, and behavioural disengagement were assessed. Results CFS/ME participants recalled significantly more specific autobiographical memories of past physical activity, compared to healthy controls. Within the CFS/ME group, lower levels of ruminating about past activity were significantly related to greater specificity in recall of activity. Further, those CFS/ME participants who recalled more specific autobiographical activity memories reported significantly lower levels of behavioural disengagement. Conclusion CFS/ME individuals' autobiographical memory for activity differs both from healthy individuals and the typical pattern found in depression. The effect of specific activity memories could be utilized in exercise-based treatment of CFS/ME. Keywords: Chronic fatigue syndrome; Myalgic encephalomyelitis; Overgeneral memory; Autobiographical memory; Physical activity; Memory specificity -------- (c) 2017 Elsevier Inc.