Treatments for childhood cancer can be life-saving, but can sometimes lead to cognitive problems. St. Jude researchers have shown that computer-based training that resembles a video game may help reverse some effects.
Working memory, attention and information processing speed improved in survivors who did the computer training. Results of brain imaging suggest the training might teach the brain to work more efficiently.
The study included survivors of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and brain tumors. Their disease and treatment left them at risk for cognitive problems. The survivors all scored lower than expected on tests of working memory.
But scores climbed back into the normal range for survivors who completed 20 to 30 training sessions. The sessions lasted 30 to 45 minutes and included exercises that became more difficult as performance improved.
“Computerized cognitive training offers childhood cancer survivors more convenient access to an intervention that is likely to ease some of their cognitive problems,” said Heather Conklin, PhD, Psychology.
Conklin HM, Ogg RJ, Ashford JM, Scoggins MA, Zou P, Clark KN, Martin-Elbahesh K, Hardy KK, Merchant TE, Jeha S, Huang L, Zhang H. Computerized Cognitive Training for Amelioration of Cognitive Late Effects Among Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncology Oct 12, 2015. Epub ahead of print. doi:10.1200/JCO.2015.61.6672