Child­hood brain tu­mor sur­vivors may have mem­ory trou­bles

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

Adult sur­vivors of child­hood brain tu­mors ap­pear to have worse work­ing mem­ory than other adults, a small study finds.

Re­searchers tested 17 adult sur­vivors of pe­di­atric brain tu­mors in the pos­te­rior fossa part of the brain. Then they tested a con­trol group of 17 healthy adults. The brain tu­mor sur­vivors scored sig­nif­i­cantly lower on tests of work­ing mem­ory, the study found.

Work­ing mem­ory is the abil­ity to re­tain and use in­for­ma­tion for short pe­ri­ods of time. The re­searchers said work­ing mem­ory is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of higher-level think­ing.

Brain scans showed that dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the brain ap­peared to “ac­ti­vate” more in brain tu­mor sur­vivors dur­ing a ver­bal work­ing mem­ory task com­pared to healthy adults. In­creased ac­ti­va­tion in those ar­eas was linked to worse per­for­mance on more de­mand­ing work­ing mem­ory tasks, the re­searchers said.

“Our goal was to iden­tify the neu­ral mech­a­nisms un­der­ly­ing work­ing mem­ory dif­fi­culty in adult sur­vivors of child­hood brain tu­mors,” Tricia King, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of psy­chol­ogy and neu­ro­science at Ge­or­gia State Univer­sity, said in a univer­sity news re­lease.

King said their find­ings showed that the brains of the adult sur­vivors needed to use ad­di­tional ar­eas of the brain, such as the pre­frontal lobe, when there were greater de­mands for work­ing mem­ory.

“This in­creased pre­frontal ac­ti­va­tion is as­so­ci­ated with lower work­ing mem­ory per­for­mance,” she said.

The find­ings could help im­prove un­der­stand­ing of work­ing mem­ory prob­lems in child­hood brain tu­mor sur­vivors and lead to im­proved treat­ment, ac­cord­ing to the re­searchers.

The study was pub­lished re­cently in the Jour­nal of the In­ter­na­tional Neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety.

Work­ing mem­ory prob­lems are com­mon in other brain dis­or­ders, such as schizophre­nia, mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis and trau­matic brain in­jury, the re­searchers said.

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