'Chemo brain': Study finds fog-like condition related to chemotherapy's effect on new brain cells and rhythms
(Medical Xpress)—It's not unusual for cancer patients being treated with chemotherapy to complain about not being able to think clearly, connect thoughts or concentrate on daily tasks. The complaint – often referred to as chemo-brain – is common. The scientific cause, however, has been difficult to pinpoint.
New research by Rutgers University behavioral neuroscientist Tracey Shors offers new clues for this fog-like condition, medically known as chemotherapy-induced cognitive impairment. In a featured article published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, Shors and her colleagues argue that prolonged chemotherapy decreases the development of new brain cells, a process known as neurogenesis, and disrupts ongoing brain rhythms in the part of the brain responsible for making new memories. Both, she says, are affected by learning and in some cases are necessary for learning to occur.
"One of the things that these brain rhythms do is to connect information across brain regions," says Shors, Professor II in the Department of Psychology and Center for Collaborative Neuroscience at Rutgers. "We are starting to have a better understanding of how these natural rhythms are used in the process of communication and how they change with experience."
Working in the Shors laboratory, postdoctoral fellow Miriam S. Nokia from the Department of Psychology at the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland and Rutgers neuroscience graduate student Megan Anderson treated rats with a chemotherapy drug – temozolomide (TMZ) – used on individuals with either malignant brain tumors or skin cancer to stop rapidly dividing cells that have gone out of control and resulted in cancer.
In this study, scientists found that the production of new healthy brain cells treated with the TMZ was reduced in the hippocampus by 34 percent after being caught in the crossfire of the drug's potency. The cell loss, coupled with the interference in brain rhythms, resulted in the animal being unable to learn difficult tasks.
Shors says the rats had great difficulty learning to associate stimulus events if there was a time gap between the activities but could learn simple task if the stimuli were not separated in time. Interestingly, she says, the drug did not disrupt the memories that were already present when the treatment began.
For cancer patients undergoing long-term chemotherapy this could mean that although they are able to do simple everyday tasks, they find it difficult to do more complicated activities like processing long strings of numbers, remembering recent conversations, following instructions and setting priorities. Studies indicate that while most cancer patients experience short-term memory loss and disordered thinking, about 15 percent of cancer patients suffer more long-lasting cognitive problems as a result of the chemotherapy treatment.
"Chemotherapy is an especially difficult time as patients are learning how to manage their treatment options while still engaging in and appreciating life. The disruptions in brain rhythms and neurogenesis during treatment may explain some of the cognitive problems that can occur during this time. The good news is that these effects are probably not long-lasting," says Shors.
Journal reference: European Journal of Neuroscience
Provided by Rutgers University
- Moderate drinking decreases number of new brain cells Oct 24, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers find key to gender differences in processing stress Dec 03, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- FDA clears first-of-a-kind device for brain cancer Apr 15, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Study detects 'chemobrain' in EEG activity Jun 04, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Potential remedy for the 'mental fog' in cancer patients Sep 04, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Activating an enzyme known to play a role in the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction delays the loss of brain cells and preserves cognitive function in mice, according to a study published in the May ...
Neuroscience 14 hours ago | 5 / 5 (5) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Despite spending billions of dollars on research and development, drug companies have been unable to come up with effective treatments for dementia and Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Now, A. ...
Neuroscience 17 hours ago | 4.9 / 5 (14) | 0 |
You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when ...
Neuroscience 18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—Native peoples in regions where cameras are uncommon sometimes react with caution when their picture is taken. The fear that something must have been stolen from them to create the photo ...
Neuroscience 20 hours ago | 4.2 / 5 (5) | 0 |
In a remote fishing community in Venezuela, a lone fisherman sits on a cliff overlooking the southern Caribbean Sea. This man –– the lookout –– is responsible for directing his comrades on the water, ...
Neuroscience 21 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Italian lawmakers on Wednesday gave their final approval to a law that allows limited use of a controversial type of stem cell therapy which has been condemned by many scientists but has given hope to families of terminally-ill ...
2 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—The mayor of Portland, Ore., has conceded defeat in an effort to add fluoride to the city's drinking water.
32 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Alabama health officials say a mysterious respiratory illness has left five people hospitalized and two dead in the southeastern part of the state.
12 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Phthalates: Study links chemicals widely found in plastics, processed food to elevated blood pressure in children, teens
Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the ...
3 hours ago | not rated yet | 1 |
Australian scientists have charted the path of insulin action in cells in precise detail like never before. This provides a comprehensive blueprint for understanding what goes wrong in diabetes.
19 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (7) | 0 |