Preliminary evidence of improved verbal working memory performance and normalization of task-related frontal lobe activation in schizophrenia following cognitive exercises.

Wexler BE, Anderson M, Fulbright RK, Gore JC
Am J Psychiatry. 2000 157 (10): 1694-7

PMID: 11007730 · DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.10.1694

OBJECTIVE - The authors' goal was to evaluate the possibility of treating brain and behavioral aspects of verbal memory dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia through cognitive exercises.

METHOD - Eight patients did daily verbal memory exercises that became progressively more difficult over a 10-week training period. Memory performance and regional brain activations during a verbal memory task were assessed before and after these exercises.

RESULTS - Verbal but not nonverbal memory performance improved after training; three patients made substantial gains, and five showed little change. Performance gains were correlated with increases in task-related activation of the left inferior frontal cortex. One patient given 5 extra weeks of training 6 weeks after the initial training period showed maintenance of initial performance gains 6 weeks after training, further improvement after the second period of training, and normalization of task-related activation of the left inferior frontal cortex.

CONCLUSIONS - Verbal memory deficits can be ameliorated by memory exercises in some patients with schizophrenia. Performance improvements are associated with increased task-related activation of the same brain region that is activated during verbal memory tasks in healthy individuals.

MeSH Terms (14)

Adult Female Frontal Lobe Humans Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Memory Disorders Middle Aged Neuropsychological Tests Pilot Projects Practice (Psychology) Schizophrenia Schizophrenic Psychology Verbal Behavior

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