BACKGROUND Patients who receive adjuvant chemotherapy have reported cognitive impairments that may last for years after the completion of treatment. Working memory-related and long-term memory-related changes in this population are not well understood. The objective of this study was to demonstrate that cancer-related cognitive impairments are associated with the under recruitment of brain regions involved in working and recognition memory compared with controls. METHODS Oncology patients (n = 15) who were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy and had evidence of cognitive impairment according to neuropsychological testing and self-report and a group of age-matched, education group-matched, cognitively normal control participants (n = 14) underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging. During functional magnetic resonance imaging, participants performed a nonverbal n-back working memory task and a visual recognition task. RESULTS On the working memory task, when 1-back and 2-back data were averaged and contrasted with 0-back data, significantly reduced activation was observed in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for oncology patients versus controls. On the recognition task, oncology patients displayed decreased activity of the left-middle hippocampus compared with controls. Neuroimaging results were not associated with patient-reported cognition. CONCLUSIONS Decreased recruitment of brain regions associated with the encoding of working memory and recognition memory was observed in the oncology patients compared with the control group. These results suggest that there is a reduction in neural functioning postchemotherapy and corroborate patient-reported cognitive difficulties after cancer treatment, although a direct association was not observed.
- cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI)
- functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- patient-reported outcomes (PRO)
- recognition memory
- working memory
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research