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Chemobrain, Brain Games, Exercise, Supps

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“In conclusion, this study adds to the clinical significance of lifestyle interventions by demonstrating improved cognition (chemobrain) following 16 weeks of walking and resistance training together with computerized visual and auditory cognitive training (brain games)…”

I am a long-term multiple myeloma survivor. I’ve undergone chemotherapy. I have a multiple myeloma side-effect called Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment aka chemobrain or chemo fog. You’re reading this blog post to learn if physical activity and brain games can help you manage chemobrain.

Examples of my own experience with chemobrain pertain primarily to my executive function. Not only word recall but memory issues such as

  • facial recognition,
  • focus,
  • multi-tasking,
  • word recall
  • executive function

other issues. This side-effect of high dose chemotherapy wasn’t even acknowledged by conventional oncology until recently. So therapies to heal chemobrain are based on my own research and based primarily on my own experiences.

Without a doubt, my own chemobrain symptoms have been improved by brain games in general, Posit Science’s  specifically. I no longer worry that I will run into an old friend on the street only to forget his/her name. I realize that forgetting names is relatively common as we age but my confidence as a cancer survivor has improved after my facial recognition abilities have improved.

You can read more about the recent studies on brain and memory games in this overview.

Not only do physical activity and brain games improve brain function aka chemobrain according to the article below but so does nutrition, supplementation and lifestyle therapies such as whole-body hypothermia aka sauna. I know because I have come a long way in healing my own chemobrain. 

Ed. Note: I look forward to the day when my daily brain gaming is on some sort of VR headset. Okay, this may be in the future but I can hope!

I am a long-term cancer survivor of a blood cancer called multiple myeloma. I identified my chemobrain years ago. I have identified a host of therapies. While I don’t know what is normal brain aging versus chemobrain, I have dedicated myself to keep my brain healthy. My body too but that’s a different blog post.


David Emerson

  • MM Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director of PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

A combination of physical activity and computerized brain training improves verbal memory and increases cerebral glucose metabolism in the elderly

“In conclusion, this study adds to the clinical significance of lifestyle interventions by demonstrating improved cognition following 16 weeks of walking and resistance training together with computerized visual and auditory cognitive training.

The results identify higher cerebral glucose metabolism as a result of these activities, beyond the traditional benefits of enhanced blood circulation as observed for both physical and mental activities. Although data from the FDG-PET scans must be interpreted with caution, the current findings provide information that combined lifestyle activities may be altering neuronal activity. A larger sample size with longitudinal follow-up would consolidate findings and provide further information. Specifically, it would help to determine if such changes in cerebral glucose metabolism are maintained following completion of the intervention, or if the activities need to be continued to maintain these benefits…

There are three novel findings from this study. First, this specific combination of PA and computerized brain training significantly improved verbal memory after 16 weeks. Second, this combined group showed higher regional counts compared with the control group; indicating higher levels of glucose metabolism. Specifically, significant increases were observed in the left primary sensorimotor cortex. Third, higher regional counts were associated with improved verbal memory at week 16 post-intervention in the combined group only. This association was not present in any other group, indicating that higher neuronal activity could be due to the activities being combined…

The findings do indicate that the type of activities trialed here provide greater cognitive benefits than routine lifestyle activities in the healthy elderly.

On-Screen Intervention May Help Lift Mental Fog

Cancer-related cognitive impairment, also known as chemo brain or chemo fog, affects up to 78% of cancer survivors. However, interventions using computers and tablets may improve mental function, according to study findings published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship.

Researchers reviewed seven studies collected from four databases. Each study measured objective and subjective cognitive function and psychological aspects in cancer survivors.

Six programs were accessible online, allowing patients to practice at home. Sessions lasted 20-60 minutes each and ran from three to 15 weeks, depending on the program…

The computerized cognitive intervention helped improve

  • executive function,
  • memory,
  • working memory and
  • processing speed,

according to the authors. “Results of this study will help provide optimal ways to develop and apply effective computerized-cognitive-intervention programs for cancer survivors,” they concluded…”

Brain Games Heal Memory, Chemo brain

There was significant improvement in immediate and delayed memory in the memory training group at the 2-month follow-up…

Chemo brain is real. I know because I am a long-term survivor of an incurable cancer called multiple myeloma. I underwent an autologous stem cell transplant (ASCT) in December of 1995. Between my induction chemotherapy and an ASCT I underwent high doses of chemotherapy. Lots of toxicity. I noticed mental difficulties and problems with my memory about a year after my ASCT, had myself tested and confirmed my chemo brain, chemo fog, cerebral dysfunction.


The existence of a side effect of chemotherapy called chemo brain or chemotherapy-induced cognitive disfunction, was debated by conventional oncology for years. Who, what, where, how much causes chemobrain is still being debated by conventional oncology.

It is clear to me that chemotherapy causes chemo brain. Chemotherapy damages your brain cells more or less in all cancer patients depending on the total toxicity sustained.  But make no mistake, chemobrain is a real long-term side-effect of chemotherapy.

The challenge is how to heal this debilitating side effect. There are a growing number of nutritional, supplement-based, exercise-based and lifestyle-based therapies that studies show help heal cognitive function. One of the most effective of these chemobrain therapies is Brain HQ.  Brain games heal chemobrain.

Image result for image of brain game

The study linked and excerpted below confirms what I have known for years. Brain training through Posit Science Brain HQ games strengthens my brain function. Think of the expression “use it or lose it.”

I receive an email from Brain HQ every morning. I log-in and then play a few brain games. It is easy to exercise my brain daily. I’m better at some games more than at others but my chemobrain is healing. My name and facial recognition has greatly improved for example. BrainHQ keeps track of my performance and has been for years now.

Recommended Reading:

Advanced cognitive training for breast cancer survivors: a randomized controlled trial

“As predicted, we noted cognitive domain-specific intervention effects; that is memory training improved memory performance and speed of processing improved processing speed. There was significant improvement in immediate and delayed memory in the memory training group at the 2-month follow-up…

The InSight program (Posit Science®), originally developed as part of the ACTIVE trial, was revised to include tasks which appear to have resulted in benefits in memory performance. The revised program includes enhanced gaming elements and four additional programs designed to not only improve visual processing speed but also improve attention, learning and memory. In addition, this program now includes game elements that are specifically designed to enhance the level of enjoyment and maximize usage and engagement of the program. Based on the results from the ACTIVE trial, we predicted that this program would significantly improve processing speed and are now encouraged by the significant improvement noted in memory performance. These findings suggest that the InSight program may have broader cognitive benefits in this clinical population….”

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