Background: Several studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) have indicated that cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) might improve cognitive function by changing brain activations in patients with schizophrenia. However, the results were not consistent in these changed brain areas in different studies. The present activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis was conducted to investigate whether cognitive function change was accompanied by the brain activation changes, and where the main areas most related to these changes were in schizophrenia patients after CRT. Analyses of whole-brain studies and whole-brain + region of interest (ROI) studies were compared to explore the effect of the different methodologies on the results.
Methods: A computerized systematic search was conducted to collect fMRI and PET studies on brain activation changes in schizophrenia patients from pre- to post-CRT. Nine studies using fMRI techniques were included in the meta-analysis. Ginger ALE 2.3.1 was used to perform meta-analysis across these imaging studies.
Results: The main areas with increased brain activation were in frontal and parietal lobe, including left medial frontal gyrus, left inferior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, right postcentral gyrus, and inferior parietal lobule in patients after CRT, yet no decreased brain activation was found. Although similar increased activation brain areas were identified in ALE with or without ROI studies, analysis including ROI studies had a higher ALE value.
Conclusions: The current findings suggest that CRT might improve the cognition of schizophrenia patients by increasing activations of the frontal and parietal lobe. In addition, it might provide more evidence to confirm results by including ROI studies in ALE meta-analysis.