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An fMRI investigation of working memory and its relationship with cardiorespiratory fitness in pediatric posterior fossa tumor survivors who received cranial radiation therapy

Authors

  • Kelly R. Wolfe MA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1300 University Blvd, CH 415, Birmingham, Alabama 35233
    • Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, CH 415, Birmingham, AL 35294.
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  • Avi Madan-Swain PhD,

    1. Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • Gary R. Hunter PhD,

    1. School of Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • Alyssa T. Reddy MD,

    1. Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • James Baños PhD,

    1. Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Adjunct), University of Alabama at Birmingham, Spain Rehabilitation Center, Birmingham, Alabama
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  • Rajesh K. Kana PhD

    1. Department of Psychology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 1300 University Blvd, CH 415, Birmingham, Alabama 35233
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  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to declare.

Abstract

Background

The present study investigated the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness and executive functioning in pediatric brain tumor survivors who received cranial radiation. This population is known to show executive dysfunction and lower rates of aerobic exercise compared to peers.

Procedure

Nine adolescent survivors of pediatric posterior fossa tumor completed an n-back working memory task during a functional MRI scan, as well as cardiorespiratory fitness testing on a cycle ergometer.

Results

Neuroimaging findings indicated typical activation patterns associated with working memory, mainly in the frontal–parietal network. Higher cardiorespiratory fitness was related to better performance on a behavioral measure of working memory and more efficient neural functioning.

Conclusions

This study provides preliminary evidence that cardiorespiratory fitness may be related to executive functioning, particularly working memory, in pediatric brain tumor survivors. Descriptions of the brain regions recruited for working memory by pediatric brain tumor survivors may be used to inform future interventions or indicators of treatment efficacy. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2013; 60: 669–675. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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