Multimodal Speech-Gesture Training Promising for Schizophrenia

Improvement in quality of life during training associated with changes in neural activation in middle temporal gyrus

MONDAY, Oct. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Multimodal speech-gesture (MSG) training is promising for patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorder (SSD), according to a study published in the August issue of Schizophrenia Research.

Lydia Riedl, Ph.D., from Philipps-University in Marburg, Germany, and colleagues examined the possibility of applying MSG training, composed of eight 60-minute sessions involving perceptive and expressive tasks, as well as meta-learning elements and transfer exercises, to 29 patients with SSD. Patients were randomly assigned to treatment as usual (TAU) first followed by MSG training (20 participants) or to MSG training first then TAU (nine participants) in a within-group crossover design, and were compared to 17 healthy controls.

The researchers found that patients had reduced quality of life compared with controls at pretraining, but a significant improvement was noted during training. This improvement was associated with changes in neural activation in the middle temporal gyrus for the processing of abstract multimodal content. The MSG-related changes were confirmed by improvement during training, self-reported measures, and ratings of relatives.

“The overall analyses evaluating the MSG training provide extraordinarily promising results which should be validated and extended in further independent studies,” the authors write. “Future studies should investigate combinations of speech-gesture training with neural stimulation techniques like transcranial magnetic stimulation or transcranial direct current stimulation, which seem to be further promising approaches.”

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