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Study: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), not medication, drives long-term rewiring of the brain to help reduce psychosis symptoms

Talk­ing ther­a­py changes the brain’s wiring, study reveals for first time (Sci­enceDai­ly):

A new study from King’s Col­lege Lon­don and South Lon­don and Maud­s­ley NHS Foun­da­tion Trust has shown for the first time that cog­ni­tive behav­iour ther­a­py (CBT) strength­ens spe­cif­ic con­nec­tions in the brains of peo­ple with psy­chosis, and that these stronger con­nec­tions are asso­ci­at­ed with long-term reduc­tion in symp­toms and recov­ery eight years lat­er.

In the orig­i­nal study, par­tic­i­pants under­went fMRI imag­ing to assess the brain’s response to images of faces express­ing dif­fer­ent emo­tions, before and after six months of CBT. Par­tic­i­pants were already tak­ing med­ica­tion when they took part in the study, and so were com­pared to a group receiv­ing med­ica­tion only. The group receiv­ing med­ica­tion only did not show any increas­es in con­nec­tiv­i­ty, sug­gest­ing that the effects on brain con­nec­tions could be attrib­uted to the CBT…

For the new study, the health of 15 of the 22 par­tic­i­pants who received CBT was tracked for eight years through their med­ical records…The results show that increas­es in con­nec­tiv­i­ty between sev­er­al brain regions — most impor­tant­ly the amyg­dala (the brain’s threat cen­tre) and the frontal lobes (which are involved in think­ing and rea­son­ing) — are asso­ci­at­ed with long-term recov­ery from psy­chosis. This is the first time that changes in the brain asso­ci­at­ed with CBT have been shown to be asso­ci­at­ed with long-term recov­ery in peo­ple with psy­chosis.”

Study: Brain con­nec­tiv­i­ty changes occur­ring fol­low­ing cog­ni­tive behav­iour­al ther­a­py for psy­chosis pre­dict long-term recov­ery (Trans­la­tion­al Psy­chi­a­try)

  • From the abstract: Lit­tle is known about the psy­chobi­o­log­i­cal mech­a­nisms of cog­ni­tive behav­iour­al ther­a­py for psy­chosis (CBTp) and which spe­cif­ic process­es are key in pre­dict­ing favourable long-term out­comes. Fol­low­ing the­o­ret­i­cal mod­els of psy­chosis, this proof-of-con­cept study inves­ti­gat­ed whether the long-term recov­ery path of CBTp com­pleters can be pre­dict­ed by the neur­al changes in threat-based social affec­tive pro­cess­ing that occur dur­ing CBTp. We fol­lowed up 22 par­tic­i­pants who had under­gone a social affec­tive pro­cess­ing task dur­ing func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing along with self-report and clin­i­cian-admin­is­tered symp­tom mea­sures, before and after receiv­ing CBTp…findings show that reor­gan­i­sa­tion occur­ring at the neur­al lev­el fol­low­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py can pre­dict the sub­se­quent recov­ery path of peo­ple with psy­chosis across 8 years. This nov­el method­ol­o­gy shows promise for fur­ther stud­ies with larg­er sam­ple size, which are need­ed to bet­ter exam­ine the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of psy­chobi­o­log­i­cal process­es, in com­par­i­son to exist­ing clin­i­cal mea­sures, in pre­dict­ing long-term out­comes.

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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