Cognitive remediation training has been shown to improve both cognitive and social cognitive deficits in people with schizophrenia, but the mechanisms that support this behavioral improvement are largely unknown. One hypothesis is that intensive behavioral training in cognition and/or social cognition restores the underlying neural mechanisms that support targeted skills. However, there is little research on the neural effects of cognitive remediation training. This study investigated whether a 50 h (10-week) remediation intervention which included both cognitive and social cognitive training would influence neural function in regions that support social cognition. Twenty-two stable, outpatient schizophrenia participants were randomized to a treatment condition consisting of auditory-based cognitive training (AT) [Brain Fitness Program/auditory module ~. 60 min/day] plus social cognition training (SCT) which was focused on emotion recognition [~. 5-15 min per day] or a placebo condition of non-specific computer games (CG) for an equal amount of time. Pre and post intervention assessments included an fMRI task of positive and negative facial emotion recognition, and standard behavioral assessments of cognition, emotion processing, and functional outcome. There were no significant intervention-related improvements in general cognition or functional outcome. fMRI results showed the predicted group-by-time interaction. Specifically, in comparison to CG, AT. +. SCT participants had a greater pre-to-post intervention increase in postcentral gyrus activity during emotion recognition of both positive and negative emotions. Furthermore, among all participants, the increase in postcentral gyrus activity predicted behavioral improvement on a standardized test of emotion processing (MSCEIT: Perceiving Emotions). Results indicate that combined cognition and social cognition training impacts neural mechanisms that support social cognition skills.
- Affect recognition
- Social cognition