Cognitive remediation can improve negative symptoms and social functioning in first-episode schizophrenia: A randomized controlled trial

Academic Article


  • Background: Meta-analyses have reported that the effects of cognitive remediation might go beyond improvement in cognition to include unexpected benefits for schizophrenia patients such as negative symptom reduction and improvements in functioning. In addition, some evidence indicated that these potentially beneficial effects are also present in the initial course of schizophrenia, but work in this area is still developing. Method: A RCT compared Cognitive Remediation (CR) to Healthy Behaviors Training (HBT) in 80 patients (78% male) with a mean age of 21.9 years and mean education of 12.3 years who had a first psychotic episode within two years of study entry. Participants were trained using CR programs or received HBT involving 50 sessions over 6 months and then booster sessions over the next 6 months. The SANS and BPRS were used to assess symptoms. The UCLA Social Attainment Survey assessed social functioning. Results: Using GLMM, improvements over 12 months were found favoring CR for SANS Expressive Symptoms (p < 0.01), which was composed of Affective Flattening (p < 0.01) and Alogia (p = 0.04), and for SANS Experiential Symptoms, composed of Avolition/Apathy (p = 0.04) and Anhedonia/Asociality (p < 0.01). CR was associated with improvements in social functioning (p = 0.05) as compared to HBT. Conclusions: We confirmed that the beneficial effects of CR appear to extend beyond cognition to improvements in negative symptoms and social functioning in early course schizophrenia patients. These results suggest that cognitive remediation might have an impact when the reduction of risk factors for chronicity is most critical for promoting recovery.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ventura J; Subotnik KL; Gretchen-Doorly D; Casaus L; Boucher M; Medalia A; Bell MD; Hellemann GS; Nuechterlein KH
  • Start Page

  • 24
  • End Page

  • 31
  • Volume

  • 203