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Brain-training exercises aid emotional recovery after breast cancer, study shows

 2 years ago       613 Views

But the psychological cost of the illness and the physical and mental impact of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have a lasting effect.

The Birkbeck study, published in the journal Psycho-Oncology, looked at how cognitive training could help women suffering in this way.

It compared anxious and depressive symptoms in two groups of women who had undergone breast cancer treatment, after they undertook different types of cognitive-training tasks over 12 days.

For the first, experimental, group the task became more challenging and difficult as their competence increased, but for the second, control group, who trained on the same task, the difficulty level remained the same throughout the training period.

The anxious/depressive symptoms of the groups were then examined three times to assess their emotional vulnerability.

The study showed a significant 16% reduction in anxiety and distress-related symptoms in the experimental group when compared to the control group.

Similarly, training reduced “rumination” by 14% compared to the control group – a causal factor for depression which includes a tendency to get stuck in cycles of negative thinking.

“Training-related gains in the experimental group resulted in a reduction in emotional vulnerability following the cognitive tasks.

On the other hand, the control group who stayed at a ‘practice’ level did not show this reduction in emotional vulnerability.” Jessica Swainston, Prof Derakhshan’s PhD student who conducted the study, said: “This research has huge implications for not only improving cognitive flexibility in breast cancer but also other chronic conditions and cancers that affect cognitive function and emotional well-being.

“We are currently running two more studies looking at the combined effects of n-back training with mindfulness and expressive writing to establish whether these treatments are enhanced when used in addition to cognitive training.”

Author: @DailyCupofYoga


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