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Conveying information cohesively is an essential element of communication that is disrupted in schizophrenia. These disruptions are typically expressed through disorganized symptoms, which have been linked to neurocognitive, social cognitive, and metacognitive deficits. Automated analysis can objectively assess disorganization within sentences, between sentences, and across paragraphs by comparing explicit communication to a large text corpus.
Little work in schizophrenia has tested: (1) links between disorganized symptoms measured via automated analysis and neurocognition, social cognition, or metacognition; and (2) if automated analysis explains incremental variance in cognitive processes beyond clinician-rated scales. Disorganization was measured in schizophrenia (n = 81) with Coh-Metrix 3.0, an automated program that calculates basic and complex language indices. Trained staff also assessed neurocognition, social cognition, metacognition, and clinician-rated disorganization.
Findings showed that all three cognitive processes were significantly associated with at least one automated index of disorganization. When automated analysis was compared with a clinician-rated scale, it accounted for significant variance in neurocognition and metacognition beyond the clinician-rated measure. When combined, these two methods explained 28–31% of the variance in neurocognition, social cognition, and metacognition.
This study illustrated how automated analysis can highlight the specific role of disorganization in neurocognition, social cognition, and metacognition. Generally, those with poor cognition also displayed more disorganization in their speech—making it difficult for listeners to process essential information needed to tie the speaker's ideas together. Our findings showcase how implementing a mixed-methods approach in schizophrenia can explain substantial variance in cognitive processes.
Impaired metacognition is associated with difficulties in the daily functioning of people with psychosis. Metacognition can be divided into four domains: Self-Reflection, Understanding the Other's Mind, Decentration, and Mastery. This study investigated whether Metacognitive Reflection and Insight Therapy (MERIT) can be used to improve metacognition.
This study is a randomized controlled trial. Patients in the active condition (n = 35) received forty MERIT sessions, the control group (n = 35) received treatment as usual. Multilevel intention-to-treat and completers analyses were performed for metacognition and secondary outcomes (psychotic symptomatology, cognitive insight, Theory of Mind, empathy, depression, self-stigma, quality of life, social functioning, and work readiness).
Eighteen out of 35 participants finished treatment, half the drop-out stemmed from therapist attrition (N = 5) or before the first session (N = 4). Intention-to-treat analysis demonstrated that in both groups metacognition improved between pre- and post-measurements, with no significant differences between the groups. Patients who received MERIT continued to improve, while the control group returned to baseline, leading to significant differences at follow-up. Completers analysis (18/35) showed improvements on the Metacognition Assessment Scale (MAS-A) scales Self Reflectivity and metacognitive Mastery at follow-up. No effects were found on secondary outcomes.
On average, participants in the MERIT group were, based on MAS-A scores, at follow-up more likely to recognize their thoughts as changeable rather than as facts. MERIT might be useful for patients whose self-reflection is too limited to benefit from other therapies. Given how no changes were found in secondary measures, further research is needed. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.