When some individuals undergo chemotherapy, they notice changes in their memory, concentration and the way they think. First reported in women with breast cancer who were undergoing treatment, for years people have worried about, joked about and been frustrated by the mental fogginess that comes with what they’ve dubbed “chemo brain.” For the first time, researchers have been able to demonstrate that chemo brain is a genuine effect.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Neurophysiology, found that people who reported chemo brain lack the ability for sustained focused thought. “A healthy brain spends some time wandering and some time engaged,” said Todd Handy, one of the researchers and a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. “We found that chemo brain is a chronically wandering brain, they’re essentially stuck in a shut out mode.”