About the Study

Adolescent Mental Health: Canadian Psychiatric Risk and Outcome Study (PROCAN)-Cognitive Remediation Therapy

Cognitive remediation is a behavioural treatment that uses cognition-enhancing, or drill and practice, and compensatory strategies to facilitate improvement in areas of neuropsychological functioning involved in learning and basic day-to-day functioning. Cognitive remediation aims to improve cognitive impairments that are making it difficult for a person to achieve their functional goals. The remediation approaches tested in schizophrenia and other psychiatric populations to date have shown moderate improvements in both cognitive functions necessary for learning and day-to-day functioning, such as interaction with others and performance at school or work. Cognition-enhancing approaches involve repetitive training with the same tasks to improve specific cognitive abilities such as learning, attention and memory. These approaches often use computers for training purposes. Compensatory approaches, in contrast, attempt to avoid cognitive deficits and teach adaptive strategies. These strategies include doing something repeatedly until there are no errors or using signs and checklist to help organize a sequence of behaviours necessary for daily functioning. Although these methods are promising in schizophrenia treatment, almost all of them involve ongoing administration and monitoring by trained therapists, making them expensive and not readily accessible in most treatment settings.

Our research focuses on young people at risk of serious mental illness (SMI) such as a psychotic disorder, severe depression and bipolar disorder. Some of these young people already have cognitive problems even if they do not go on to develop a SMI. Our goal in this study is to reduce further cognitive deterioration and improve cognition using a cognitive remediation technique called My Brain Solutions (MBS). This novel cognitive remediation treatment (CRT) package developed by Brain Resource includes three components: Assessment, Training and Monitoring that are all part of the program. The Assessment component consists of a thorough assessment battery that taps into four core capacities of brain function such as emotion, feeling, thinking and self-regulation and includes tests of cognitive and social cognitive function, as well as emotional states. The training component involves a number of interactive, online training games and exercises designed to train aspects of the four core capacities, including monitoring of participants’ training progress on the four core capacities. During training, a point reward system is implemented to award training effort, specific achievements and acquisition of new skills. Because success of CRT studies relies on participants’ adherence to treatment a method of counseling called Motivational Interviewing (MI) will be used to help clients consider making changes in behavior by facilitating and engaging intrinsic motivational processes. MI is a client-centered, goal-oriented method with an aim to enhance treatment adherence and treatment gains as a result of another treatment. In the current study, half of all participants will receive MI.

This study is being led by Dr Danijela Piskulic who can be contacted on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 403-210-7327