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Schizophr Res. 2018 Mar;193:276-283. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2017.06.062. Epub 2017 Jul 6.

White matter microstructure predicts cognitive training-induced improvements in attention and executive functioning in schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, United States.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota, MN, United States.


We examined the relationship between white matter microstructure in schizophrenia using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and cognitive improvements induced by 70h (~16weeks) of cognitive training. We measured anatomical connectivity in 48 patients with schizophrenia (SZ) and 28 healthy control participants (HC) at baseline, and then examined the relationship between anatomical connectivity at baseline and training-induced cognitive gains in 30 SZ who performed diffusion imaging after completing 70h of training. Compared with healthy control participants, individuals with schizophrenia showed reduced white matter integrity at baseline, as indexed by fractional anisotropy metrics, in bilateral posterior corona radiata, bilateral retrolenticular internal capsules, bilateral posterior thalamic radiation, left anterior corona radiata, left superior longitudinal fasciculus, left sagittal stratum, right cerebral peduncle and the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum. After training, schizophrenia participants showed significant gains in attention/vigilance, speed of processing, verbal learning, visual learning and executive functioning. White matter integrity within the right fronto-occipital fasciculus predicted training-induced improvements in attention/vigilance, while white matter integrity within the right corticospinal tract and bilateral medial lemnisci predicted cognitive training-induced improvements in executive functioning, areas that did not show white matter tract deficits at baseline. These findings suggest that preserved white matter integrity connecting long-range prefrontal-thalamic-sensorimotor areas may be an important determinant for training-induced neurocognitive plasticity.


Attention; Cognitive training; Diffusion tensor imaging; Executive functioning; Prefrontal cortex; Schizophrenia

[Available on 2019-03-01]

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