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ISSN: 1935-1232 (P)

ISSN: 1941-2010 (E)

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Abstract

Cognitive Improvement of Schizophrenia Patients: Enhancing Cognition while Enjoying Computer-Aided Cognitive Training

Author(s): Wolfgang Trapp , Alexander Hasmann , Bernd Gallhofer ,Johannes Schwerdtner , Wilfried Guenther , Matthias Dobmeier

Cognitive deficits are a core symptom in schizophrenia, but until now controlled efficacy studies of cognitive training methods have shown inconclusive results. This study examined the effects of computer-aided cognitive training using motivational software that evokes positive emotions in patients suffering from schizophrenia. Forty patients were included: twenty of them received cognitive training; twenty received occupational therapy. Both before and after treatment, all patients were assessed with a battery of neuropsychological tests measuring executive functions, attention and verbal memory. Enhancing effects on executive functioning level and verbal memory could be found. At the same time, effects on positive and negative symptom levels could be observed. Changes in symptom levels and cognitive improvement were uncorrelated. Our findings imply that cognitive achievement of schizophrenia patients can be improved using pleasant and “game-like” cognitive training tasks. This may be due to a motivating effect and, to a greater extent, because these tasks cause enhanced processing