Background: Cognitive impairment is a major manifestation of schizophrenia and a crucial
treatment target as these deficits are closely related to patients’ functional outcomes. Cognitive remediation
is the gold-standard practice to address cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. There is clear evidence
stating that cognitive remediation improves cognitive function and promotes structural neuroplastic
changes in patients with schizophrenia, with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression
emerging as a potential biomarker for its efficacy. This is particularly important as there is clear
evidence relating atypical BDNF expression to cognitive impairment in patients with schizophrenia.
Despite the valuable role of cognitive remediation in the management of schizophrenia, there is still a
need to develop methods that allow maximizing its efficacy.
Method and Results: In this review, we present a hypothesis arguing that cognitive remediation efficacy
for patients with schizophrenia can be enhanced by aerobic exercise-induced BDNF upregulation.
There have been a few trials reporting that combining aerobic exercise with cognitive training was superior
to cognitive training alone to improve cognitive functioning in patients with schizophrenia. Furthermore,
there is preliminary evidence suggesting that combined aerobic and cognitive training can
increase peripheral BDNF levels.
Conclusion: Thereby, engaging in aerobic exercise in close temporal proximity to cognitive remediation
may allow achieving a state of neuroplastic readiness in the brain, facilitating cognitive functioning
enhancement. Although this hypothesis still lacks evidence, future clinical trials using cognitive
remediation for schizophrenia should explore strategies to maximize neuroplasticity and achieve optimal