Computerized Cognitive Training for Schizophrenia in Brazil

Investigator: Sophia Vinogradov, MD
Sponsor: NIH John F. Fogarty International Center

Location(s): Brazil


The goals of this project are: 1) to develop research expertise and a sustainable research infrastructure among psychiatrists in a developing country (Brazil) in the study of cognition in schizophrenia; 2) to modify a neuroscience-based computerized cognitive training program for schizophrenia so that it is adapted for the language and cultural milieu of Brazil; 3) to perform a clinical trial of cognitive training in the context of a developing country. In Latin America, schizophrenia is the second contributor to the burden of psychiatric illness, and there is a growing interest in finding treatments that can reduce the psychosocial burden and improve quality of life. In this project, we will examine whether a promising neuroscience-based computerized cognitive training program under investigation in the U.S. can be successfully adapted for a clinical trial in a developing country. This will give insights about the potential worldwide impact of this approach to cognitive training in schizophrenia. Study co-PI Dr. Vinogradov has been investigating the effects of computerized auditory/verbal learning training to enhance cognitive function in schizophrenia, an approach that is based on principles of learning-induced neuroplasticity. Study co-PI Dr. Panizzutti has been a Visiting Scientist at the University of California, San Francisco for the past three years and has been involved in this research in Dr. Vinogradov's laboratory. This project will support an active collaboration in which, during Year 1, Dr. Panizzutti will implement his new knowledge and skills at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro to build research infrastructure and to develop a culturally appropriate computerized cognitive training program for schizophrenia that can be studied in the network of outpatient clinics run by the Brazilian public health service. In Years 2 and 3, a randomized controlled trial will take place.  The purpose of this study is to investigate the usefulness of neuroscience- guided cognitive training for people with schizophrenia when it is delivered in a different culture and language. We will build a self-sustaining setting for research in the cognition of schizophrenia patients at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; we will develop modifications to the cognitive training exercises that for use with the Brazilian patient population; and we will perform a study of neuroplasticity-based computerized cognitive training in Brazilian patients.