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Schizophr Res. 2005 Dec 15;80(2-3):295-303. Epub 2005 Aug 24.

Remediation of impairments in facial affect recognition in schizophrenia: efficacy and specificity of a new training program.

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Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Duesseldorf, Rhineland State Clinics, Bergische Landstrasse 2, D-40629 Duesseldorf, Germany.



Schizophrenia patients often exhibit impairments in facial affect recognition which contribute to their poor social functioning. These impairments are stable in the course of the disorder and seem not to be affected by conventional treatment. The present study investigates the efficacy and specificity of a new training program for the remediation of such impairments.


A newly developed training program tackling affect recognition (TAR) was compared with a cognitive remediation training program (CRT) and treatment as usual (TAU) within a randomized three group pre-post design in n=77 post-acute schizophrenia patients. The TAR is a computer-aided 12-session program focussing on facial affect recognition, whereas the CRT aims to improve attention, memory and executive functioning. Facial affect recognition, face recognition, and neurocognitive performance were assessed before (T0) and after (T1) the six week training phase. During the training period all patients received antipsychotic medication.


Patients under TAR significantly improved in facial affect recognition, with recognition performance after training approaching the level of healthy controls from former studies. Patients under CRT and those without special training (TAU) did not improve in affect recognition, though patients under CRT improved in verbal memory functions.


According to these results, remediation of disturbed facial affect recognition in schizophrenia patients is possible, but not achievable with a traditional cognitive rehabilitation program such as the CRT. Instead, functional specialized remediation programs such as the newly developed TAR are a more suitable option.

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