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Ask the Experts


Are there any treatments that help cognition in schizophrenia?

Answered by: Alice Medalia

Cognitive deficits, like impaired attention, memory, and problem solving, are routinely evident in schizophrenia, and are of sufficient magnitude to impact functional outcomes in arenas such as work, social functioning, and illness management.

At this point there is no FDA-approved medication to treat cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. However, cognitive remediation is an evidenced-based behavioral treatment for the cognitive deficits seen in schizophrenia.

Narrowly defined, cognitive remediation is a set of cognitive drills or compensatory interventions designed to enhance cognitive functioning, but from the vantage of the psychiatric rehabilitation field. Cognitive remediation is a therapy which engages patients in learning activities that enhance the cognitive skills relevant to their chosen recovery goals.

Cognitive remediation programs vary in the extent to which they reflect these narrow or broader perspectives, but six meta-analytic studies, which reviewed and synthesized the results of more than 35 studies with over 1000 patients, report moderate range effect sizes on cognitive test performance and daily functioning. This indicates that cognitive remediation can be helpful to many people with schizophrenia, both by improving their cognitive functioning and their daily life skills.

There are also techniques families and friends can use to help someone with schizophrenia improve his or her cognition. Click here to view a manual which provides information about treating cognition in people with psychiatric disorders.