Health

Chemotherapy Impairs Cognitive Ability, Cancer Survivors Left with ‘Chemo Brain,’ Study Says

Chemotherapy (Gerry Broome/AP)
Chemotherapy (Gerry Broome/AP)

 

(HNGN) – Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have conducted a study that shows chemotherapy can lead to mind-wandering and an inability to concentrate. Long suspected to cause cognitive impairment, the cancer treatment causes what has been dubbed “chemo brain,” according to the new study’s results.

According to a press release from UBC, breast cancer survivors were asked to complete a set of tasks while researchers monitored their brain activity. What they found is that the minds of people with chemo brain lack the ability for sustained focused thought.

“A healthy brain spends some time wandering and some time engaged,” said Todd Handy, a professor of psychology at UBC, according to the press release. “We found that chemo brain is a chronically wandering brain, they’re essentially stuck in a shut out mode.”

Handy explains that healthy brains function in a cyclic way. People can focus on a task and be completely engaged for a few seconds and then will let their mind wander a bit, but the research team found that chemo brains tend to stay in that disengaged state. To make matters worse, even when women thought they were focusing on a task, the measurements indicated that a large part of their brain was turned off and their mind was wandering.

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