Screening for and assessment of neurocognition and social cognition
Cognitive impairment is a core symptom of schizophrenia,1 said Professor Silvana Galderisi, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Caserta, Italy, and impairs real-life functioning.2 The most important cognitive domains to consider when personalizing management of patients are neurocognition and social cognition.3
Cognitive impairment worsens real-life functioning in schizophrenia
All patients with schizophrenia should therefore be screened for cognitive impairment and undergo a comprehensive assessment of cognitive functioning to develop a personalized care plan, added Professor Armida Mucci, University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli, Caserta, Italy.
Screening tools to assess neurocognition include the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS)4 and the Measurement and Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia (MATRICS) Consensus Cognitive Battery,5 said Professor Armida. However, these tools should be complemented with tools to measure social cognition in terms of:
Neurocognition and social cognition are the most important cognitive domains to consider when personalizing patient management
- Emotion processing – the ability to perceive and use emotions
- Social perception – the ability to decode and interpret social cues in others
- Theory of mind — the ability to represent the mental states of others including the inference of intentions or beliefs (also known as cognitive empathy)
- Attributional style — the way in which an individual explains social events or interactions6
Cognition Assessment in Virtual Reality promises to improve assessment of cognition
A new sensitive and valid tool for measuring real-life cognitive impairments is the Cognition Assessment in Virtual Reality (CAVIR), said Professor Merete Nordentoft, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. This new tool assesses verbal memory, processing speed, attention, working memory and planning skills in an interactive virtual reality scenario,7 and the feasibility and efficacy of CAVIR using multiple real-life scenarios is being investigated by Professor Nordentoft and her colleagues.
Treatment of cognitive impairment in schizophrenia
Second-generation antipsychotics, exercise, and cognitive remediation can improve cognitive impairment in schizophrenia
Professor Antonio Vita, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy, provided evidence for the effectiveness of a variety of interventions for improving cognitive impairment. These include:
- Use of second-generation antipsychotics, which have a favorable cognitive profile compared with first-generation antipsychotics8
- Integrating physical exercise, which has positive effects on cognition, into rehabilitation programs9
- Cognitive remediation, which aims to improve cognitive processes through behavioral training-based interventions10
Systematic reviews and meta-analyses demonstrate not only the efficacy of on cognitive remediation cognition and functioning10 but also a good acceptability profile,11 explained Professor Vita.