September 10, 2004

Successful Therapy for Cog. Deficits

According to new research published in this month's Archives of General Psychiatry, cognitive rehabilitation can lead to major improvements for patients with stable schizophrenia. This is promising news, given the inability of most anti-psychotic medications to consistently or dramatically improve the negative, or social/cognitive, symptoms of schizophrenia.

According to the research team, cognitive therapy is most beneficial to patients with controlled symptoms and reduced relapse risk, but with lingering social and cognitive deficits.

In their study, the team examined the potential benefits of two types of cognitive therapy with a pool of 121 symptomatically-stable schizophrenia/schizoaffective disorder patients. The subjects recieved either "cognitive enhancement therapy," an approach that combines neurocognitive training (via computer programs) with social cognitive group exercises, or "enriched supportive therapy," which uses coping strategies and patient education to improve individual illness management.

After 12 months, results showed that the Cognitive Enhancement Therapy group had major improvements in processing speed and neurocognition (esp. improved verbal memory and some problem-solving skills), and modest improvements in cognitive style, social cognition, and social adjustment. This improvement trend continued over an additional 12 months.

Patients recieving enriched supportive therapy did not show such a dramatic cognitive advance, although there were still measurable neurocognitive and behavioral improvements.

The researchers optimistically concluded: "[t]he cognitive disabilities of schizophrenia do not need to be the persistent deficits described in numerous naturalistic, longitudinal studies. Instead, many of these disabilities are capable of improvement after adequate exposure to cognitive rehabilitation."

For the full story, see "Cognitive rehabilitation shows robust benefits for schizophrenics" Sept 10, 2004. Available at

Read the published research online:
"Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Schizophrenia: Effects of a 2-year Randomized Trial on Cognition and Behavior" (Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2004;60:866-876).

Cognitive therapy has shown much promise as a form of psychotherapy for schizophrenia patients. See the articles below for details:

1. Cognitive Therapy for Schizophrenia. (

2. Cognitive-Enhancement Therapy - an overview of the basic principles, and how it can be effective in treating schizophrenia. (

3. Computer-Assisted Cognitive Rehabilitation Reduces Negative Symptoms in the Severely Mentally Ill. (


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