Many women with breast cancer suffer from a decline in memory and executive function, particularly after treatment with chemotherapy. Recent neuroimaging studies suggest that changes in network dynamics are fundamental in decline in these cognitive functions. This has, however, not yet been investigated in breast cancer patients. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging, we prospectively investigated whether changes in dynamic functional connectivity were associated with changes in memory and executive function. We examined 34 breast cancer patients that received chemotherapy, 32 patients that did not receive chemotherapy, and 35 no-cancer controls. All participants were assessed prior to treatment and six months after completion of chemotherapy, or at similar intervals for the other groups. To assess memory and executive function, we used the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test – Immediate Recall and the Trail Making Test B, respectively. Using a sliding window approach, we then evaluated dynamic functional connectivity of resting state networks supporting memory and executive function, i.e. the default mode network and frontoparietal network, respectively. Next, we directly investigated the association between cognitive performance and dynamic functional connectivity. We found no group differences in cognitive performance or connectivity measures. The association between dynamic functional connectivity of the default mode network and memory differed significantly across groups. This was not the case for the frontoparietal network and executive function. This suggests that cancer and chemotherapy alter the role of dynamic functional connectivity in memory function. Further implications of these findings are discussed.
- Breast cancer (BC)
- Cancer-related cognitive impairment (CRCI)
- Dynamic functional connectivity (dFC)
- Resting-state fMRI (rsfMRI)