What is cognitive impairment and how can it be improved?

Cognitive impairment is considered a core feature of schizophrenia. However, not all individuals with schizophrenia have these cognitive difficulties. These impairments can range in severity from mild to moderate or even severe and can be found in several thinking skill domains such as concentration (attention), short-term memory (working memory), verbal learning and memory (long-term memory), reasoning and problem-solving (executive functions), and the ability to perform tasks at an appropriate speed (speed of processing). Another area which patients with schizophrenia find challenging is social cognition, defined as thinking skills applied to social situations. Social cognition includes abilities such as emotion recognition, understanding social cues, and accurately perceiving the attitudes and intentions of other people in a social setting. Some studies have shown that problems with thinking skills in social situations are even more closely associated with impairment in daily functioning than are non-social cognitive impairments. Recent treatment studies, both behavioral and brain imaging, suggest that these cognitive deficits can be remediated.

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