Dissociation of decision making under ambiguity and decision making under risk in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy: A neuropsychological study

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Abstract

There is evidence that women with breast cancer show a cognitive impairment after having undergone chemotherapy treatment; this cognitive impairment may result in behavioral deficits. However, the neural mechanism of this cognitive impairment remains unclear. The present study investigated the neural basis of the cognitive impairment caused by chemotherapy treatment by exploring the decision-making function of the executive subcomponents under ambiguity and risk in breast cancer survivors. Participants included breast cancer patients who had undergone chemotherapy (CT, N=63) or patients who did not undergo chemotherapy (non-CT, N=62), as well as matched healthy controls (HC, N=61). All participants were examined using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) to assess their decision-making under ambiguity, the Game of Dice Task (GDT) to assess their decision-making under risk and neuropsychological background tests. Our results indicated that during the IGT test, the chemotherapy-treated breast cancer patients selected from the disadvantageous decks with a higher frequency than the non-treated breast cancer patients or healthy controls, whereas all three groups performed at the same level when performing the GDT. The CT group demonstrated significantly lower scores in several cognitive tasks, including attention, memory, executive functions and cognitive processing, when compared with the other two groups. In addition, within the CT group, significant correlations were found between the IGT performance and information processing, as well as with working memory. This study demonstrated that breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy may have selective reductions in IGT performance but unimpaired GDT performance and that these deficits may result from dysfunctions in the limbic loop rather than in the dorsolateral prefrontal loop. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

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Chen, X., Zhu, C., Li, J., Qiu, L., Zhang, L., Yu, F., … Wang, K. (2013). Dissociation of decision making under ambiguity and decision making under risk in breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant chemotherapy: A neuropsychological study. Brain Research, 1533, 63–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2013.08.015

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