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Schizophr Res. 2012 Jul;138(2-3):262-7. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.03.005. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Training of affect recognition (TAR) in schizophrenia--impact on functional outcome.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Gürtel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria. gabriele.sachs@meduniwien.ac.at


Deficits in facial affect recognition as one aspect of social cognitive deficits are treatment targets to improve functional outcome in schizophrenia. According to preliminary results antipsychotics alone show little effects on affect recognition. A few randomized intervention studies have evaluated special psychosocial treatment programs on social cognition. In this study, the effects of a computer-based training of affect recognition were investigated as well as its impact on facial affect recognition and functional outcome, particularly on patients' quality of life. Forty clinically stabilized schizophrenic patients were randomized to a six-week training on affect recognition (TAR) or treatment as usual including occupational therapy (TAU) and completed pre- and post-treatment assessments of emotion recognition, cognition, quality of life and clinical symptoms. Between pre- and post treatment, the TAR group achieved significant improvements in facial affect recognition, in particular in recognizing sad faces and, in addition, in the quality of life domain social relationship. These changes were not found in the TAU group. Furthermore, the TAR training contributes to enhancing some aspects of cognitive functioning and negative symptoms. These improvements in facial affect recognition and quality of life were independent of changes in clinical symptoms and general cognitive functions. The findings support the efficacy of an affect recognition training for patients with schizophrenia and the generalization to social relationship. Further development is needed in the impact of a psychosocial intervention in other aspects of social cognition and functional outcome.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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