Matthew Kurtz, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has published an article in the March 2013 issue of Scientific American Mind magazine. Kurtz, who studies schizophrenia, writes about the less-well-known symptoms of the disease, which include cognitive and social deficits. These troubles make it difficult for people with schizophrenia to maintain meaningful relationships, hold jobs and live independently. Sadly, drugs used to treat the hallucinations and delusions in schizophrenia do nothing to improve patients’ quality of life in these other areas.
In the article, Kurtz describes some of the new psychological interventions shown to improve cognitive and social skills in people with schizophrenia. One such therapy, called cognitive remediation, uses computer software or paper-and-pencil exercises to improve patients’ ability to concentrate, remember, plan and solve problems. Other treatments, called social cognitive or “social skills” training programs, work to improve social skills by helping patients to decipher emotional cues and take another person’s perspective. Remarkably, these therapies appear to create visible changes in brain activity.
Watch Kurtz discuss his research in this video.