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Schizophr Res. 2007 Jan;89(1-3):251-60. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

Computer-assisted cognitive remediation in schizophrenia: what is the active ingredient?

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  • 1Schizophrenia Rehabilitation and Resource Center, Institute of Living, Hartford, CT, United States. MKURTZ@HARTHOSP.ORG


An emerging body of research has shown that computer-assisted cognitive remediation, consisting of training in attention, memory, language and/or problem-solving, produces improvement in neurocognitive function that generalizes to untrained neurocognitive tests and may also impact symptoms and work functioning in patients with schizophrenia. The active ingredient of these interventions, however, remains unknown as control groups in these studies have typically included few, if any, of the elements of these complex behavioral treatments. This study compared the effects of an extended (12-month), standardized, computer-assisted cognitive remediation intervention with those of a computer-skills training control condition that consisted of many of the elements of the experimental intervention, including hours spent on a computer, interaction with a clinician and non-specific cognitive stimulation. Forty-two patients with schizophrenia were randomly assigned to one of two conditions and were assessed with a comprehensive neuropsychological test battery before and after treatment. Results revealed that cognitive-remediation training produced a significant improvement in working memory, relative to the computers-skills training control condition, but that there was overall improvement in both groups on measures of working memory, reasoning/executive-function, verbal and spatial episodic memory, and processing speed. Taken together, these findings suggest that specific practice in neurocognitive exercises targeted at attention, memory and language, produce improvements in neurocognitive function that are not solely attributable to non-specific stimulation associated with working with a computer, interacting with a clinician or cognitive challenge, but that non-specific stimulation has a salutary effect on neurocognition as well.

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