Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Cost of Cancer
19 March 2014

Cost of Cancer

They say that an elephant never forgets but it’s really the seahorse that has the best memory. At least when talking about neuroscience that is. The hippocampus – latin for seahorse – is a brain region bearing a resemblance to its underwater namesake that’s key to our ability to remember. Due to this important function, it’s a central focus of research into why treating cancers of the nervous system often leaves patients with poorer information recall. For example, years after gruelling therapy for a childhood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), adult survivors suffer a variety of cognitive defects, including poor visual scene recognition. Here yellow and red represent activity levels in the hippocampus of ALL survivors (right pair) and unaffected individuals (left pair) engaging in memory tasks, showing the physical manifestation of this problem. Beating cancer, it seems, comes at a price.

Written by Jan Piotrowski

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