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Functional Connectivity Changes in Emotion Processing Network Following Social Cognitive Training in Individuals with Psychosis
Deficits in social cognition play a large role in functional impairments and disability in individuals with schizophrenia and are associated with altered activity in underlying functional networks. Cognitive training on abilities that support social cognition, such as emotion recognition, may improve these deficits. This study assesses changes in social cognitive functional networks following targeted cognitive training in individuals with schizophrenia. 52 individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders underwent a clinical evaluation and a functional MRI session prior to and subsequent to completing 40 hours (over ~8 weeks) of either targeted social cognitive training using SocialVille (brainhq.com) or a computer game control condition. Resting state fMRI was acquired as well as fMRI during performance of an emotion recognition task and changes in emotion processing network activation and functional connectivity was evaluated. Training was associated with altered activity within the emotion processing network, including the amygdala and superior temporal sulcus (STS). In addition, altered STS-medial prefrontal connectivity and amydala-orbitofrontal connectivity was found. These results suggest that targeted social cognitive training may be effective in altering functional network connectivity in networks associated with deficits in individuals with psychosis and may be a useful tool for intervention in individuals with psychotic disorders.