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Hippocampal and Cognitive Function, Exercise, and Ovarian Cancer: A Pilot Study


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In this application, we propose to address this problem by focusing primarily on a single post-chemotherapy complaint in a single cancer: problems with memory in patients with ovarian cancer. We focus on this problem for three reasons: 1) according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, memory problems are among the most frequently cited by patients; 2) by narrowly targeting our inquiry, we will avoid the noise in the data associated with different treatment regimens and correspondingly different cognitive complaints and; 3) there are decades of neuroscience research, some of it from our group, indicating that memory impairment, such as the kind reported in the context of chemotherapy, is mediated primarily by a region of the brain called the hippocampus. In this application, we propose to investigate the possibility that standard chemotherapy regimen used to treat ovarian cancer leads to memory impairment because it arrests the normal processes of neurogenesis, the growth of new nerve cells, in this brain region. In addition, because a growing body of research studies shows that physical exercise leads to improvement in memory and learning and that exercise targets the same brain regions responsible for chemotherapy-induced memory problems, we propose to conduct a pilot study of an intervention to increase patients physical activity to test whether this will slow this effect of chemotherapy on nerve cell growth in the hippocampus and subsequently offset memory decline.



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