Neuroplastic Response After Radiation Therapy for Pediatric Brain Tumors: A Pilot Study

Carol L. Armstrong, Michael J. Fisher, Yimei Li, Robert A. Lustig, Jean B. Belasco, Jane E. Minturn, Christine E. Hill-Kayser, Sonny Batra, Peter C. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose Clinically effective measurement of cognitive toxicity from photon radiation therapy (XRT) should be accurate, sensitive, and specific. This pilot study tested translational findings on phasic changes in children's memory systems that are sensitive and insensitive to toxic XRT effects to identify a possible neuroplastic effect. Methods and Materials Memory processes were prospectively tested before XRT and at 3 later time points up to 2 years in 35 children with mixed primary brain tumors who had not experienced recurrence. Memory processes were verbal-semantic, visual-semantic, and visual-perceptual, including accuracy, speed to recall, encoding, retrieval, and recognition. The mixed-effects model included time (to estimate slope), covariates (age, tumor locus, XRT field, and medications) as fixed effects, and individual random intercepts. A sensitivity analysis examined the influence of XRT dose to the hippocampi on memory. Results Retrieval from long-term verbal-semantic memory declined 2 months after completing XRT, as seen in adults, and was lowest at 1 year, which was delayed in comparison with adults. Double dissociation from visual-perceptual memory at baseline and 2 months was found, consistent with adults. Recovery was demonstrated 2 years after XRT. Patterns were unchanged when dose to hippocampus was included in the model. Conclusions Verbal and semantic long-term retrieval is specifically sensitive to XRT-related cognitive dysfunction, without effect on visual-perceptual memory. Children reached nadir in XRT-sensitive memory 1 year after XRT and recovered by 2 years, which is later than that observed in adults. The protracted period of post-XRT injury may represent the maturation of the human hippocampus and white matter into late adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroplastic Response After Radiation Therapy for Pediatric Brain Tumors: A Pilot Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this