An examination of the moderating effects of neurophysiology on treatment outcomes from cognitive training in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders

Int J Psychophysiol. 2020 Aug:154:59-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.02.004. Epub 2019 Feb 15.


Background: Impairments in neurocognition and community functioning are core features of schizophrenia and cognitive training techniques have been developed with the aim of improving these impairments. While cognitive training has produced reliable improvements in neurocognition and functioning, little is known about factors that moderate treatment response. Electroencephalographic (EEG) measures provide a neurophysiological indicator of cognitive functions that may moderate treatment outcomes from cognitive training.

Methods: Data from a clinical trial comparing two cognitive training approaches in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders were utilized in the current report. Cluster analysis was conducted to identify participant clusters based on baseline P300, mismatch negativity (MMN), and theta power during an n-back task, and the EEG measures were also examined as continuous predictors of treatment response.

Results: Three clusters were identified based on the baseline EEG variables; however, there were no significant differences in treatment response across the three clusters. Higher P300 amplitude and theta power during the n-back at baseline were significantly associated with greater improvements in a cognitive composite score post-treatment. None of the EEG measures were significantly associated with treatment outcomes in specific cognitive domains or community functioning. Change in EEG measures from baseline to post-treatment was not significantly associated with durability of cognitive or functional change at 12-week follow-up.

Conclusions: Clusters derived from the EEG measures were not significantly associated with either neurocognitive or functional outcomes. P300 and n-back theta power may be associated with learning-related processes, which are important for acquisition and retention of skills during cognitive training programs. Future research should aim to identify at an individual level who is likely to respond to specific forms of cognitive enhancement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Humans
  • Neurophysiology
  • Schizophrenia* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome