V Gandara, JA Pineda, IW Shu and F Singh,
Schizophrenia bulletin, Mar 2020 02
Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by positive symptoms (hallucinations and delusions), negative symptoms (anhedonia, social withdrawal) and marked cognitive deficits (memory, executive function, and attention). Current mainstays of treatment, including medications and psychotherapy, do not adequately address cognitive symptoms, which are essential for everyday functioning. However, recent advances in computational neurobiology have rekindled interest in neurofeedback (NF), a form of self-regulation or neuromodulation, in potentially alleviating cognitive symptoms in patients with SCZ. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review of the literature for NF studies in SCZ to identify lessons learned and to identify steps to move the field forward. Our findings reveal that NF studies to date consist mostly of case studies and small sample, single-group studies. Despite few randomized clinical trials, the results suggest that NF is feasible and that it leads to measurable changes in brain function. These findings indicate early proof-of-concept data that needs to be followed up by larger, randomized clinical trials, testing the efficacy of NF compared to well thought out placebos. We hope that such an undertaking by the field will lead to innovative solutions that address refractory symptoms and improve everyday functioning in patients with SCZ.