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Predictors and Determinants of Cognitive and Functional Improvement with Aerobic Exercise and Cognitive Training in First-Episode Schizophrenia
We completed a randomized controlled trial of Cognitive Training & Exercise (CT&E) versus Cognitive Training (CT) alone with 47 first-episode schizophrenia patients. Posit Science computerized cognitive training was provided to all participants, four hours/week for six months. The CT&E group also participated in total body circuit training exercises, with a goal of completing 150 minutes/week. A weekly bridging group focused on generalizing cognitive gains to everyday life. Both groups showed cognitive and work/school functioning gains, but the improvements were significantly larger when aerobic exercise was added to cognitive training. In the current analyses we sought predictors and determinants of these gains. Across both groups, better bridging group attendance was associated with greater work/school improvement (r=0.36), supporting its role in aiding generalization to everyday life. Within the CT&E group, better baseline social functioning predicted larger 6-month cognitive gains (r=0.63). Those patients who completed a higher proportion of their exercise sessions (r=0.51), including home exercise sessions (r=0.54), had the largest cognitive gains, supporting the view that aerobic exercise drove their improvement. Thus, aerobic exercise showed a dose-response relationship to cognitive improvement.