The advancements in medical science have successfully overcome many diseases of the past. The ones that were once called untreatable or deadly are now easily treated with specific medication. Unfortunately, mental diseases are now more common than ever.
One of the popular mental diseases is schizophrenia. In accordance with the statistics, schizophrenia is among the major causes of disability in the world. In fact, it is in the list of the top 15 disabling health conditions around the globe.
Over three million people in the United States alone are affected by schizophrenia. The cases seem to go up every year. In addition, many of the cases are also now drug resistant. This means that the condition is no longer improved or controlled by the particular medicines.
The main symptoms of this health condition include hallucinations, psychoses, and delusions. Perhaps the most problematic effects of the condition are the inability to make or maintain social contacts, lack of motivation, and cognitive impairment.
Why Is Cognitive Impairment So Problematic?
The cognitive impairment in schizophrenia specifically impacts working and verbal memory. The past research on this aspect of the condition suggested that these cognitive problems may be there due to an inability to process auditory information.
For example, the conclusion of one of such studies from the journal NeuroImage was “impairments in [auditory] discrimination may contribute to higher-order cognitive and psychosocial deficits in [schizophrenia].”
Therefore, the researchers are now looking at whether targeted cognitive training (TCT) can help. The training uses special computers games that may change certain neural pathways.
According to researchers, it may improve verbal learning and auditory perception in people suffering from schizophrenia.
The new study on this matter was led by Gregory A. Light, Ph.D. — a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. It is published in the journal Schizophrenia Research.
Read the research here.
How Was the Study Conducted?
Prof. Light, who is also the director of the Mental Illness, Research, Education, and Clinical Center at Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, started by telling the reason for the research.
He said, “Chronic, treatment-refractory patients mandated to locked residential care facilities make up just a small subgroup of persons with schizophrenia, but they consume a disproportionately large share of mental health care resources.”
In addition, he further added “Finding an effective therapy for them is critical,”.
The team started their research by observing 46 people with schizophrenia psychosis. These participants had been hospitalized before. During the study, they were the part of a community-based residential care program. A legal guardian was also present with them at this time.
The participants were divided into two groups. One of them only had the standard treatment for schizophrenia while the only got TCT along with it.
What Were the Results?
By the end of the study, the participants with TCT treatment showed improvements in verbal learning along with less severe hallucinations. The results were the same in all the people regardless of factors such as age or severity of symptoms.
This shows that TCT may be able to help those with the worst of symptoms. However, Prof. Light says that more research is required. Even though the results were promising, there is so much more to learn about the condition and further effects of TCT.