Cognitive deficits are a core feature of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders and are associated with decreased levels of functioning. Behavioural interventions have shown success in remediating these deficits; determining how best to maximise this benefit while minimising the cost is an important next step in optimising this intervention for clinical use.
To examine the effects of a novel working-memory focused cognitive remediation (CR) training on cognitive difficulties based on internet delivery of training and weekly telephone support.
Participants with a diagnosis of psychosis (n=56) underwent either 8weeks of CR (approximately 20h) or 8weeks of treatment as usual (TAU). General cognitive ability, working memory and episodic memory were measured both pre and post intervention for all participants.
In addition to improvements on trained working memory tasks, CR training was associated with significant improvements in two tests of verbal episodic memory. No association between CR and changes in general cognitive ability was observed. Effect sizes for statistically significant changes in memory were comparable to those reported in the literature based primarily on 1:1 training.
The cognitive benefits observed in this non-randomised preliminary study indicate that internet-based working memory training can be an effective cognitive remediation therapy. The successes and challenges of an internet-based treatment are discussed..