Available cognitive remediation interventions have a significant but relatively small to moderate impact on episodic memory in schizophrenia. The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and feasibility of a brief novel episodic memory training targeting the self-initiation of semantic encoding strategies. To select patients with such deficits, 28 participants with schizophrenia performed our Semantic Encoding Memory Task (SEMT) that provides a measure of self-initiated semantic encoding strategies. This task identified a deficit in 13 participants who were then offered two 60-minute training sessions one week apart. After the training, patients performed an alternate version of the SEMT. The CVLT-II (a standardised measure of semantic encoding strategies) and the BVMT-R (a control spatial memory task) were used to quantify memory pre- and post-training. After the training, participants were significantly better at self-initiating semantic encoding strategies in the SEMT (p = .004) and in the CVLT-II (p = .002). No significant differences were found in the BVMT-R. The current study demonstrates that a brief and specific training in memory strategies can help patients to improve a deficient memory process in schizophrenia. Future studies will need to test this intervention further using a randomised controlled trial, and to explore its functional impact.
Keywords: Episodic memory; Memory training; Schizophrenia; Semantic encoding strategies.