October 27, 2008
Staff Reporter

Chemo brain — reduced cognitive abilities because of chemotherapy treatment of cancer — can improve with computer-based training, U.S. researchers say.

Lead investigator Sarah-Jane Kim said chemo brain is a well-documented phenomenon in patients with different types of cancer. The declines in processing speed and memory often diminish the confidence of patients causing them to withdraw from interactions with their family, peers or co-workers at a time when support is needed most, Kim said.

Kim’s study, being presented is part of a larger study in breast cancer survivors, used the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program Classic to alleviate chemo brain symptoms. The program is a series of six, specially engineered, computer-based exercises designed by neuroscientists. Kim said the cognitive training on the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program Classic significantly improved memory and sped up thinking.

The breast cancer patients who went through the training surpassed healthy, aged-matched peers in the ability to process information quickly, Kim said.

Study results showed 94 percent of participants experienced positive changes in overall well-being, and reported statistically significant improvements in cognitive function, stress level and health-related quality of life.

The findings were presented at the 28th annual National Academy of Neuropsychology Conference in New York.