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As the number of cancer survivors rises, so does the importance of understanding what happens post-chemotherapy. The evidence is clear that chemotherapy affects not only cancer cells, but also healthy cells including neurons, leading to long-term cognitive dysfunction in a large portion of survivors. In order to understand the mechanism of action and in the hope of reducing the potential neurocognitive side effects of chemotherapy, pre-clinical testing should be used more effectively. However, the field is lacking translation from clinical studies to animal models. Spatial learning and memory paradigms based on the water maze, the most commonly used rodent model, are available for translational testing in humans and could overcome this weakness. There is an overwhelming need in the field to understand whether the water maze is an adequate model for post-chemotherapy impairments or whether other paradigms should be used. This is of great importance for the understanding of the mechanisms, side effects of new drugs, appropriate pharmacotherapy, and confounding factors related to chemotherapy treatment regiments. This review is very important to both basic scientists and clinicians determining how translational paradigms are critical to future cancer research, as well as what type of paradigms are appropriate in our technically advancing society.
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