Improving Theory of Mind in Schizophrenia by Targeting Cognition and Metacognition with Computerized Cognitive Remediation: A Multiple Case Study

Schizophr Res Treatment. 2017;2017:7203871. doi: 10.1155/2017/7203871. Epub 2017 Jan 26.

Abstract

Schizophrenia is associated with deficits in theory of mind (ToM) (i.e., the ability to infer the mental states of others) and cognition. Associations have often been reported between cognition and ToM, and ToM mediates the relationship between impaired cognition and impaired functioning in schizophrenia. Given that cognitive deficits could act as a limiting factor for ToM, this study investigated whether a cognitive remediation therapy (CRT) that targets nonsocial cognition and metacognition could improve ToM in schizophrenia. Four men with schizophrenia received CRT. Assessments of ToM, cognition, and metacognition were conducted at baseline and posttreatment as well as three months and 1 year later. Two patients reached a significant improvement in ToM immediately after treatment whereas at three months after treatment all four cases reached a significant improvement, which was maintained through 1 year after treatment for all three cases that remained in the study. Improvements in ToM were accompanied by significant improvements in the most severely impaired cognitive functions at baseline or by improvements in metacognition. This study establishes that a CRT program that does not explicitly target social abilities can improve ToM.