Study describes changes to structural brain networks after radiotherapy for brain tumors

June 26, 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Researchers compared the thickness of brain cortex in patients with brain tumors before and after radiation therapy was applied and found significant dose-dependent changes in the structural properties of cortical neural networks, at both the local and global level. These alterations and the finding of increased segregation of brain regions essential for thought function may have a role in the delayed cognitive impairment experienced by many patients after brain radiotherapy. This new research is reported in Brain Connectivity.

In the article entitled "Altered Network Topology in Patients with Primary Brain Tumors after Fractionated Radiotherapy," Naeim Bahrami, Carrie McDonald, and coauthors from the University of California San Diego, used MRI imaging to estimate cortical thickness across multiple brain regions. The results demonstrated that radiotherapy to one region of the brain that led to cortical thinning could affect the thickness of other brain regions that are structurally and functionally connected. These global network effects included decreased interactivity and integration of cortical subnetworks, and changes in the distribution of major network hubs in the brain, which are critical for cognitive processing.

"It has been an open scientific question as to whether causes atrophy to ," states Christopher Pawela, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Brain Connectivity. "Dr. Bahrami and colleagues have performed an elegant study in which they were able to link structural neurodegenerative changes in cortex to variations in network connectivity between . Their work provides insights on a possible mechanism of how radiotherapy degrades healthy brain tissue outside the tumor region leading to post-therapeutic cognitive decline."

Explore further: Radiation therapy vital to treating brain tumors, but it exacts a toll

More information: Naeim Bahrami et al, Altered Network Topology in Patients with Primary Brain Tumors After Fractionated Radiotherapy, Brain Connectivity (2017). DOI: 10.1089/brain.2017.0494

Related Stories

Radiation therapy vital to treating brain tumors, but it exacts a toll

June 9, 2017
Radiation therapy (RT) using high-energy particles, like x-rays or electron beams, is a common and critical component in successfully treating patients with brain tumors, but it is also associated with significant adverse ...

Strategic brain training positively affects neural connectivity for individuals with TBI

May 23, 2017
A recent study from the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas shows that a certain type of instructor-led brain training protocol can stimulate structural changes in the brain and neural connections ...

Structural deficits may explain mood-independent cognitive difficulties in bipolar disorder

November 1, 2016
A new study in Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reports a link between reduced functional activation and reduced cortical thickness in the brains of patients ...

Does HIV infection affect brain connectivity and cognitive performance?

May 10, 2017
A new study has shown that compared to HIV-negative young adults, those positive for HIV infection with limited or no treatment history had significant disruptions in whole brain structural networks, poorer strength and efficiency ...

Exercise study offers hope in fight against Alzheimer's

May 3, 2017
Could the initiation of a simple walking exercise program help older adults to reverse declines in key brain regions? A new study led by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers adds more information about ...

Altered brain connectivity may explain cognitive impairment in pediatric leukemia survivors

May 18, 2016
The neurotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic drugs on the developing brains of young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may impair their cognitive functioning by disrupting the formation of neural networks that ...

Recommended for you

New technique helps uncover changes in ALS neurons

June 22, 2018
Northwestern Medicine scientists have discovered that some neurons affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) display hypo-excitability, using a new method to measure electrical activity in cells, according to a study ...

Broken shuttle may interfere with learning in major brain disorders

June 22, 2018
Unable to carry signals based on sights and sounds to the genes that record memories, a broken shuttle protein may hinder learning in patients with intellectual disability, schizophrenia, and autism.

Watching stem cells repair spinal cord in real time

June 22, 2018
Monash University researchers have restored movement and regenerated nerves using stem cells in zebra fish where the spinal cord is severely damaged.

Scientists discover fundamental rule of brain plasticity

June 21, 2018
Our brains are famously flexible, or "plastic," because neurons can do new things by forging new or stronger connections with other neurons. But if some connections strengthen, neuroscientists have reasoned, neurons must ...

Waking up is hard to do: Prefrontal cortex implicated in consciousness

June 21, 2018
Philosophers have pondered the nature of consciousness for thousands of years. In the 21st century, the debate over how the brain gives rise to our everyday experience continues to puzzle scientists. To help, researchers ...

Researchers find mechanism behind choosing alcohol over healthy rewards

June 21, 2018
A new study links molecular changes in the brain to behaviours that are central in addiction, such as choosing a drug over alternative rewards. The researchers have developed a method in which rats learn to get an alcohol ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.