Skyland Trail Research Illustrates Importance of Cognitive Training in Psychiatric Treatment of Thought Disorders

Atlanta, GA – The Skyland Trail Outcomes and Research Department recently conducted a study on the effectiveness of computerized cognitive training (CCT) in psychiatric treatment. The findings will appear in the March 2020 issue of the journal Schizophrenia Research: Cognition. Individuals with severe mental illness, particularly individuals diagnosed with thought disorders or experiencing psychosis, are at risk for cognitive impairment, which can involve problems with memory, language, thinking, and judgement. The goal of this study was to look for factors associated with cognitive improvement in patients who were referred to CCT due to low baseline cognitive scores at admission to treatment.

The study followed patients in Skyland Trail’s residential psychiatric treatment program for adults ages 18 and older. The study determined that the lower a patient’s cognitive score before treatment and the higher their training engagement in CCT during treatment, the greater their cognitive gains by the end of treatment. Results of the study have important treatment implications, including:

  • the importance of immediately assessing patients for cognitive impairment at the beginning of treatment and, if indicated by results of the assessment, referring patients to a cognitive training intervention as quickly as possible
  • the importance of monitoring patients’ engagement in CCT interventions to ensure patients participate at adequate levels of training for the best results

The full article titled “Training Engagement, Baseline Cognitive Functioning, and Cognitive Gains with Computer Cognitive Training: A Cross-Diagnostic Study,” appears in the March 2020 issue (volume 19) of Schizophrenia Research: Cognition. It can be viewed online here.

Cognitive training at Skyland Trail is a computer-based cognitive rehabilitation training program. A growing body of research shows that, in concert with therapy and medications, cognitive training may be effective not only in stopping cognitive decline for individuals with schizophrenia and other thought disorders, but even in reversing mild impairment.

Results are especially promising when cognitive training is started early in the course of a person’s mental illness, making it particularly important for first episode psychosis and young adults who are newly diagnosed. Skyland Trail patients in the residential mental health treatment program participate in cognitive training groups weekly. Psychiatrists can customize settings for each client to maximize patient engagement and benefit. As clients progress, the software adapts to their new skill level so that they are always at the right level to continue making improvements.