“Do you suffer from schizophrenia? Do you hear distressing voices? There’s an app for that.”
Using computer technology to address schizophrenia is a new project of Dr. Sophia Vinogradov, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco and Associate Chief of Staff Mental Health Services, San Francisco VA Medical Center. Based on the concept of “brain plasticity”, or the ability of the brain to change with exercise, Dr. Vinogradov contends that the use of computer programs can help reshape brains of those with schizophrenia to reduce symptoms and improve recovery prospects.
While the causes of schizophrenia are thought, in part, to lie in a still obscure combination of genetic, environmental and developmental factors, a big step towards curing its symptoms has recently been accomplished by a research team at the University of California, San Francisco, led by Dr. Vinogradov. The symptoms of schizophrenia, beyond delusions and hallucinations, include a range of cognitive and social deficits which affect memory, decision-making, attention, and social cognition.
According to Dr. Vinogradov, these problems are not helped by current antipsychotic drugs, and psychotherapeutic measures are only of limited benefit. For the past 10 years, Dr. Vinogradov has focused on the design, implementation, and evaluation of neuroscience-informed computerized exercises to improve these undervalued symptoms–with life-changing implications for patients. A 2012 study demonstrated that “a serious behavioral deficit in schizophrenia, and its underlying neural dysfunction, can be improved by well-designed computer cognitive training, resulting in a better quality of life.”
Below, Dr. Vinogradov presents a 15 minute talk on this compelling subject. All families with loved ones with schizophrenia should take note.
Dr. Vinagradov’s pioneering work is supported by the One Mind Institute (IMHRO).
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