Public Release: 

Childhood brain tumor treatment impairs new memory formation

Study suggests previously unknown effect of radiation therapy on creation of personal memories

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Left: Both patients and healthy controls recall very old personal memories with similar amounts of detail, whereas patients have difficulty remembering specific episodic details for recently experienced personal events.... view more 

Credit: Melanie Sekeres

Young people who received radiation therapy for the most common pediatric brain tumor struggle to create new memories about specific events, according to a study of children and adolescents published in JNeurosci. Their ability to recall events prior to treatment, however, remains intact.

Although it greatly improves survival from a brain tumor, radiotherapy has disruptive effects on the developing brain. In their study of seven- to 18-year-olds who underwent radiotherapy as children and a healthy control group, Melanie Sekeres, Paul Frankland, and colleagues asked participants to recall two different memories -- an event from the previous month and another from as long ago as they could remember. The researchers found that the brain tumor patients reported fewer episodic details, such as time and place, about the recent memory and comparable episodic details about the old memory compared to the healthy children.

The preservation of old memories and difficulty forming new ones may be related to reduced neurogenesis in the hippocampus observed in these patients. Overall, the study suggests a previously unknown effect of radiotherapy on the ability to create personal memories that could impact a survivor's quality of life.

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Article: Impaired recent, but preserved remote, autobiographical memory in pediatric brain tumor patients

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1056-18.2018

Corresponding authors: Melanie Sekeres (Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA), melanie_sekeres@baylor.edu and Paul Frankland (The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada), paul.frankland@sickkids.ca

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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