Researchers have found that children exposed to cancer treatment such as chemotherapy are more likely to have decreased cognitive flexibility and a weaker short-term memory. The study show that cognitive functions which are slow developing or mature during adolescence, in particular short-term memory, are very vulnerable to the chemotherapy treatment. Cognitive functions such as long-term memory and the ability to concentrate remain largely unaffected as they develop before the treatment. Rudi D’Hooge, Professor at the University of Leuven in Belgium said, “Tests that require quick switching between tasks or remembering new information for a short amount of time were clearly more difficult for former cancer patients. The developmental stage of the brain at the start of the cancer treatment probably plays a decisive role.” For the finding, the team examined 31 young adults who underwent chemotherapy as a child, on average around the age of six and a half. The survivors’ performance was compared on a number of psychological tests with the results of a control group.
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