Neuroplasticity-based cognitive training in schizophrenia: an interim report on the effects 6 months later.

Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco and San Francisco VA Medical Center, CA 94121, USA.
Schizophrenia Bulletin (Impact Factor: 8.61). 04/2009; 36(4):869-79. DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbn170
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT New cognitive treatments for schizophrenia are needed that drive persistent gains in cognition and functioning. Using an innovative neuroplasticity-based cognitive training approach, we report our interim findings on the effects on cognition and functional outcome at 6 months after treatment.
Thirty-two clinically stable schizophrenia subjects were randomly assigned to either targeted cognitive training (TCT, N = 22) or a computer games (CGs) control condition (N = 10). Twelve TCT subjects completed 50 hours of auditory based training; 10 TCT subjects completed an additional 50 hours of training targeting visual and cognitive control processes. Subjects were assessed on neurocognition and functional outcome after training and at 6-month follow-up.
Both TCT subject groups showed significant durable gains at 6 months on measures of verbal learning/memory and cognitive control. Only TCT subjects who completed 100 hours of training showed durable gains on processing speed and global cognition, with nonsignificant improvement in functional outcome. Improved cognition was significantly associated with improved functional outcome at 6 months for TCT subjects.
A total of 50 hours of neuroplasticity-based computerized cognitive training appears sufficient to drive improvements in verbal learning/memory and cognitive control that endure 6 months beyond the intervention, but a higher "dose" and more "broad-spectrum" training may be necessary to drive enduring gains in processing speed and global cognition. Training-induced cognitive improvement is related to enhanced functioning at 6 months. These data suggest that (1) higher and "broader" doses of cognitive training may confer the most benefits for schizophrenia patients; (2) the posttraining period opens a critical window for aggressive adjunctive psychosocial rehabilitation.

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