New Brain Training Treatments for Psychiatric Illness

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My recovery from schizophrenia was a rocky road. Even once I got my psychosis under control, I found my deficient cognitive, motivational and social functioning still left me somewhat handicapped. Since then, so many of the things that have made my life worthwhile-nurturing relationships, succeeding at work, pursuing personal goals, contributing to the community-I have only been able to do because I found ways to develop these capacities. A turning point for me was the use of a cognitive training program conducted by Dr. Sophia Vinogradov of UCSF. This program focused on strengthening the brain’s auditory processing circuits. I used this program on a laptop computer for two months in 1998, and the boost it gave to my ability to participate in conversation has snowballed over the years into many other areas.

Now, a second generation of digital programs has arrived, aiming to strengthen other types of functioning, including motivational drive and social cognition. With us this month on Brain Waves were two leaders creating this second wave, Dr. Danielle Schlosser and Dr. Joshua Woolley, both at UCSF. These two scientists are working, both independently and together, to offer individuals with schizophrenia, depression, autism, and other conditions opportunities to improve their abilities and lives.