What is cognitive impairment and how can it be improved?

Cognitive (thinking) impairment is considered a core feature of schizophrenia. However, not all individuals with schizophrenia have these cognitive difficulties. These difficulties can range in severity from mild to moderate or even severe and can be found in several thinking skill areas such as concentration, short-term memory and long-term memory, reasoning and problem-solving ability, and the ability to perform tasks at an appropriate speed. Another area which individuals with schizophrenia find challenging is social cognition, defined as thinking skills applied to social situations. Social cognition includes abilities such as recognizing emotions in others, 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 difficulties in daily life than are non-social cognitive (thinking) difficulties. Recent treatment studies, both behavioral and brain imaging, suggest that these cognitive deficits can be remediated.

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