June 27, 2023
Psych Congress Network
Evi Arthur

Cognitive Remediation Training (CRT) was found to be an effective, non-pharmacological treatment for impulsive aggression for inpatient participants with schizophrenia with a history of aggressive episodes. The randomized controlled trial study results were recently published in the journal Schizophrenia Research. 

“Social and emotional function is sometimes viewed as distinct from cognitive function,” said Henry Mahncke, PhD, CEO of Posit Science, developer of BrainHQ, the app used in the study, in a press release, “but these new results confirm that these brain functions are deeply interrelated, and suggest that improving foundational cognitive performance may help people with schizophrenia in broad aspects of their daily lives, including interpersonal interactions.”

Researchers conducted the study at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center and the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Westchester Behavioral Health Center over 14 weeks. The 130 participants, 84.5% male with a mean age of 34.9 years, either experienced at least 1 aggressive incident within the past year or had a Life History of Aggression (LHA) score of 5 or more. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a combination of cognitive remediation and social cognition treatment or cognitive remediation plus a computer-based control. Neurocognition, social cognition, symptom severity, and aggression were assessed at the beginning and end of the 36-session treatment period.

Both groups, CRT plus Social Cognition Training (SCT) and the CRT plus control group, experienced significant reductions in aggression measures. There were no significant differences between the 2 groups, except on a specific behavioral task of aggression called the Taylor Aggression Paradigm (TAP), where the CRT plus SCT group showed greater improvement.

“Collectively, these results point to an important potential treatment path that would benefit from greater research funding,” Dr Mahncke concluded.

Khan A, Lindenmayer JP, Insel B, et al. Computerized cognitive and social cognition training in schizophrenia for impulsive aggression. Schizophr Res. 2023;256:117-125. doi.org/10.1016/j.schres.2022.11.004

New Study: Brain Training Reduces Aggressive Behavior in People with Schizophrenia. News release. Globe Newswire. June 20, 2023. Accessed June 26, 2023.