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Computerized Tool Aids Cognitive Deficits in Cancer Survivors

Findings based on small study of childhood cancer survivors with treatment-related deficits

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 14, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Computerized cognitive training improves cognitive deficits associated with pediatric cancer treatment, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Heather M. Conklin, Ph.D., from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues randomly assigned 68 survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia or brain tumor with identified cognitive deficits to either computerized cognitive intervention (18 males, 16 females) or waitlist (18 males, 16 females). The intervention consisted of 25 training sessions at home with weekly, telephone-based coaching.

The researchers found that survivors completing the intervention (30 patients; 88 percent) demonstrated greater improvement than controls on measures of working memory, attention, and processing speed. They also showed greater reductions in reported executive dysfunction. From pre- to post-training, functional magnetic resonance imaging showed significant reduction in activation of left lateral prefrontal and bilateral medial frontal areas.

“Study findings show computerized cognitive training is feasible and efficacious for childhood cancer survivors, with evidence for training-related neuroplasticity,” conclude the authors.

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