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Observation and Imitation of Social Emotions Are Essential for Improving Cognitive and Affective Theory of Mind in Schizophrenia

A Meta-analysis

Yeh, Pin-Yang, PhD, Cand*†; Yu, Lifa, PhD; Guo, Nai-Wen, PhD; Lin, Wei-Che, MD, PhD; Wu, Ching-Kuan, MD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 6 - p 474–481
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000000996
Review Article
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People with schizophrenia often demonstrate deficits in theory of mind (ToM), which may be addressed via social cognition training that includes observation and imitation of social emotions. We examined the effect of observation and imitation on ToM and whether computerized cognitive training (CCT) can improve ToM. Among 14 controlled trials, 264 of 494 people with schizophrenia received treatment. Observation and imitation of social emotions improved cognitive (g = 0.53; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.29–0.76) and affective ToM (g = 0.54; 95% CI, 0.34–0.73), versus treatment as usual or cognitive rehabilitation alone. CCT did not significantly enhance affective ToM (p = 0.42); however, cognitive ToM improvements without CCT (g = 1.20; 95% CI, 0.78–1.61) were superior to those with CCT (g = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.02–0.64; p < 0.01). Observation and imitation of social emotions are essential for improving ToM in schizophrenia, but CCT may not improve ToM.

*Institute of Allied Health Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan;

Tsyr-Huey Mental Hospital;

Department of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kaohsiung Medical University, Kaohsiung;

§Institute of Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan; and

Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Send reprint requests to Nai-Wen Guo, PhD, Institute of Allied Health Sciences, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, No. 1, University Rd, Tainan City 701, Taiwan. E-mail: austing@mail.ncku.edu.tw.

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