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      Cognitive remediation improves cognition and good cognitive performance increases time to relapse – results of a 5 year catamnestic study in schizophrenia patients


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          Cognitive deficits are stable features of schizophrenia that are linked to functional outcome. Cognitive remediation approaches have been proven successful in ameliorating these deficits, although effect sizes vary considerably. Whether cognitive deficits are serious predictors of clinical outcome is less clear.


          Sixty patients suffering from schizophrenia were included in our sample, thirty of them received computer-assisted cognitive training, and thirty received occupational therapy. For a subsample of 55 patients, who could be traced over a period of five years after the end of the cognitive remediation intervention, time until first relapse and time in psychosis were determined retrospectively from their medical records.


          Cognitive remediation significantly improved problem solving, memory and attention with high effect sizes. Employment status, a post test verbal memory performance measure and a measure of executive functioning outperformed all other measures in the prediction of time to relapse, while allocation to treatment group outperformed all other variables in the prediction of both cognitive measures.


          Cognitive remediation of neurocognitive deficits thus makes sense in a twofold fashion: It enhances cognition directly and positively acts on clinical course indirectly via improved neurocognition.

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          German Clinical Trials Register: DRKS00004880

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          Most cited references39

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          What are the functional consequences of neurocognitive deficits in schizophrenia?

          M. Green (1996)
          It has been well established that schizophrenic patients have neurocognitive deficits, but it is not known how these deficits influence the daily lives of patients. The goal of this review was to determine which, if any, neurocognitive deficits restrict the functioning of schizophrenic patients in the outside world. The author reviewed studies that have evaluated neurocognitive measures as predictors and correlates of functional outcome for schizophrenic patients. The review included 1) studies that have prospectively evaluated specific aspects of neurocognition and community (e.g., social and vocational) functioning (six studies), 2) all known studies of neurocognitive correlates of social problem solving (five studies), and 3) all known studies of neurocognitive correlates and predictors of psychosocial skill acquisition (six studies). Despite wide variation among studies in the selection of neurocognitive measures, some consistencies emerged. The most consistent finding was that verbal memory was associated with all types of functional outcome. Vigilance was related to social problem solving and skill acquisition. Card sorting predicted community functioning but not social problem solving. Negative symptoms were associated with social problem solving but not skill acquisition. Notably, psychotic symptoms were not significantly associated with outcome measures in any of the studies reviewed. Verbal memory and vigilance appear to be necessary for adequate functional outcome. Deficiencies in these areas may prevent patients from attaining optimal adaptation and hence act as "neurocognitive rate-limiting factors." On the basis of this review of the literature, a series of hypotheses are offered for follow-up studies.
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            A meta-analysis of cognitive remediation for schizophrenia: methodology and effect sizes.

            Cognitive remediation therapy for schizophrenia was developed to treat cognitive problems that affect functioning, but the treatment effects may depend on the type of trial methodology adopted. The present meta-analysis will determine the effects of treatment and whether study method or potential moderators influence the estimates. Electronic databases were searched up to June 2009 using variants of the key words "cognitive," "training," "remediation," "clinical trial," and "schizophrenia." Key researchers were contacted to ensure that all studies meeting the criteria were included. This produced 109 reports of 40 studies in which ≥70% of participants had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, all of whom received standard care. There was a comparison group and allocation procedure in these studies. Data were available to calculate effect sizes on cognition and/or functioning. Data were independently extracted by two reviewers with excellent reliability. Methodological moderators were extracted through the Clinical Trials Assessment Measure and verified by authors in 94% of cases. The meta-analysis (2,104 participants) yielded durable effects on global cognition and functioning. The symptom effect was small and disappeared at follow-up assessment. No treatment element (remediation approach, duration, computer use, etc.) was associated with cognitive outcome. Cognitive remediation therapy was more effective when patients were clinically stable. Significantly stronger effects on functioning were found when cognitive remediation therapy was provided together with other psychiatric rehabilitation, and a much larger effect was present when a strategic approach was adopted together with adjunctive rehabilitation. Despite variability in methodological rigor, this did not moderate any of the therapy effects, and even in the most rigorous studies there were similar small-to-moderate effects. Cognitive remediation benefits people with schizophrenia, and when combined with psychiatric rehabilitation, this benefit generalizes to functioning, relative to rehabilitation alone. These benefits cannot be attributed to poor study methods.
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              Longitudinal studies of cognition and functional outcome in schizophrenia: implications for MATRICS.

              It is generally accepted that cognitive deficits in schizophrenia are related to functional outcome. However, support for longitudinal relationships between cognition and functional outcome has not been as well documented. The current paper presents a review of 18 recently published longitudinal studies (minimum 6-month follow up) of the relationships between cognition and community outcome in schizophrenia. Results from these studies reveal considerable support for longitudinal associations between cognition and community outcome in schizophrenia. These studies demonstrate that cognitive assessment predict later functional outcome and provide a rationale for psychopharmacological interventions for cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. Although the relationships between cognition and community outcome are well-supported, it is clear that community functioning is also affected by a host of factors apart from cognition that are usually not considered in clinical trial studies (e.g., psychosocial rehabilitation and educational/vocational opportunities). In the second part of the paper, we consider intervening steps between cognitive performance measures and community outcome. These steps are apt to have important implications for clinical trials of cognition-enhancing agents in schizophrenia.

                Author and article information

                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BioMed Central
                9 July 2013
                : 13
                : 184
                [1 ]Department of Psychiatry, Sozialstiftung Bamberg, St-.Getreu-Straße 14-18, Bamberg, 96049, Germany
                [2 ]Department of Physiological Psychology, Otto-Friedrich University Bamberg, Markusplatz 3, Bamberg, 96045, Germany
                [3 ]Centre for Psychiatry, Justus Liebig University School of Medicine Gießen, Am Steg 22, Gießen, 35392, Germany
                Copyright © 2013 Trapp et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 13 September 2012
                : 28 June 2013
                Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry
                schizophrenia,cognition,cognitive remediation,outcome,prediction,clinical course


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