Impairment of the executive function in breast cancer patients receiving chemotherapy treatment: a functional MRI study

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The aim of this study is to investigate chemotherapy-induced alterations in the functional framework of the brain, and probe the relationship between these changes and executive function impairments in breast cancer patients. Thirty-three breast cancer patients (BC) after receiving chemotherapy and 31 matched healthy controls (HC) were enrolled in this study. All participants received resting-state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fcMRI) and neuropsychological background tests. The lower functional connectivity of the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) was found in the left postcentral gyrus, left precentral gyrus, right superior temporal gyrus, right cingulate gyrus and right middle frontal gyrus. A significant negative correlation was found between the response time on the Trail Making Tests and the functional connectivity strength between the PCC and right middle frontal and right cingulate gyri in breast cancer patients. In addition, the strength of the functional connectivity between the PCC and right middle frontal gyrus had a negative correlation with the response times on the Stroop Interference Test in breast cancer patients. This study demonstrated that BC patients after receiving chemotherapy have abnormal functional connectivity. These findings suggest that functional connectivity changes might play an important role in chemotherapy-induced executive function impairments in breast cancer patients.

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