Improving Cognition Through Telehealth Aerobic Exercise and Cognitive Training After a First Schizophrenia Episode
The participants in the study will receive psychiatric treatment at the UCLA Aftercare Research Program. All participants in this 12-month RCT will receive cognitive training. Half of the patients will also be randomly assigned to the aerobic exercise and strength training condition, and the other half will be randomly assigned to the Healthy Living Group condition. The primary outcome measures are improvement in cognition and level of engagement in the in-group and at-home exercise sessions. Increases in the level of the patient's serum brain-derived neurotropic factor (specifically Mature BDNF) which causes greater brain neuroplasticity and is indicator of engagement in aerobic exercise, will be measured early in the treatment phase in order to confirm engagement of this target. In order to demonstrate the feasibility and portability of this intervention outside of academic research programs, the interventions will be provided via videoconferencing. The proposed study will incorporate additional methods to maximize participation in the exercise condition, including the use of the Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST) platform to enhance motivation for treatment based on Self-Determination Theory principles, and a "bridging" group to help the participants generalize gains to everyday functioning. In addition, the exercise group participants will receive personally tailored text reminders to exercise.
- a first episode of a psychotic illness that began within the past two years;
- a diagnosis by DSM-5 of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophreniform disorder;
- age 18 to 45 years of age;
- sufficient acculturation and fluency in the English language to avoid invalidating research measures; and
- residence likely to be within commuting distance of the UCLA Aftercare Research Program.
- premorbid IQ less than 70;
- evidence of a known neurological disorder (e.g., epilepsy) or significant head injury;
- evidence of moderate or severe substance use disorder within the six months prior to the first episode or evidence of a substance-induced psychosis.