Both cognitive and social-cognitive deficits impact functional outcome in schizophrenia. Cognitive remediation studies indicate that targeted cognitive and/or social-cognitive training improves behavioral performance on trained skills. However, the neural effects of training in schizophrenia and their relation to behavioral gains are largely unknown. This study tested whether a 50-h intervention which included both cognitive and social-cognitive training would influence neural mechanisms that support social ccognition. Schizophrenia participants completed a computer-based intervention of either auditory-based cognitive training (AT) plus social-cognition training (SCT) (N=11) or non-specific computer games (CG) (N=11). Assessments included a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task of facial emotion recognition, and behavioral measures of cognition, social cognition, and functional outcome. The fMRI results showed the predicted group-by-time interaction. Results were strongest for emotion recognition of happy, surprise and fear: relative to CG participants, AT+SCT participants showed a neural activity increase in bilateral amygdala, right putamen and right medial prefrontal cortex. Across all participants, pre-to-post intervention neural activity increase in these regions predicted behavioral improvement on an independent emotion perception measure (MSCEIT: Perceiving Emotions). Among AT+SCT participants alone, neural activity increase in right amygdala predicted behavioral improvement in emotion perception. The findings indicate that combined cognition and social-cognition training improves neural systems that support social-cognition skills.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by a NARSAD Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation Young Investigator Award (C.I.H) and NIMH grants MH71746 (C.I.H.) and MH68725-02 (S.V.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The authors would like to thank Suzanne Baker and Tom Zeffiro for consultation on fMRI analysis techniques, Ori Elis for help with data collection, and Samia Arthur-Bentil, Chinmayi Tengshe, and Juyoen Hur for help with data processing.
- Affect recognition
- Face processing
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
- Neuroplasticity treatment
- Social functioning
- Social skills