Background: The aim of cognitive remediation is to target the cognitive impairments of patients with psychosis, including attentional deficits, memory problems, and limitations in planning and problem solving. It is hoped that by addressing these deficits, patients will be more able to take advantage of other interventions and will be more able to function in social and other domains. Many results in controlled trials of cognitive remediation in adult patients affected by schizophrenia have demonstrated its effectiveness on different cognitive domains and on patients functioning. Some researchers speculate that deficits in cognition are more amenable to remediation during earlier phases of illness than when chronicity has developed. For these reasons cognitive rehabilitation should be a key component of early intervention programs, seeking to produce durable functional changes in the early course of schizophrenia. Although there is strong evidence that cognitive remediation is effective in adult schizophrenia, there is little evidence about its efficacy and long-term generalized effectiveness in the early course of the disease, and its possible application in the prodromal phase of the disease. Purpose Of Review: The aim of this paper is to review the available literature on cognitive remediation in the prodromal phase and in the early course of schizophrenia. This review summarizes especially findings of cognitive changes induced in the early course or in the prodromal phases of schizophrenia by different remediation methods. Controlled studies of cognitive training are discussed in more detail. Conclusion: Few studies on the effects of cognitive training programs have been conducted in first episode or in early schizophrenia and only one study has been conducted in the prodromal phase of the disease. Although preliminary positive results have been achieved, more empirical research is needed to confirm the efficacy of cognitive remediation in the early course of schizophrenia, and future studies should address the issue of the usefulness of cognitive remediation in the prodromes of psychosis.
Keywords: Cognitive remediation, cognitive rehabilitation, first episode psychosis, early schizophrenia, at risk psychosis, cognitive improvement, within-group analysis, randomized controlled trial, post-treatment followup, grey matter changes
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