University of California Los Angeles researchers have determined that mental and physical exercise could boost brain capabilities for individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, especially young adults. The study was just a small pilot study and further research and medical studies are needed to verify these findings but the results do show promise for brain deficit reductions in those who have schizophrenia. People diagnosed with this mental disorder are typically treated with antipsychotic medications in order to manage the hallucinations and delusions that this disorder can cause, but schizophrenia is also marked by problems in brain function which include social cognition, memory, and even thinking skills. Deficits in information processing and problem solving skills can be crippling for someone with this disease, even more so than some of the other more obvious and well known symptoms.
UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior professor Keith Nuechterlein discussed the research on mental and physical exercise on individuals with schizophrenia, explaining the deficits and stating “They tend to be the things that lead people with schizophrenia to go on disability and to become unable to work and to be socially isolated. Families go through a stage almost like mourning because their loved one changes so dramatically.” 1% of the population will be diagnosed with schizophrenia, and previous research has identified PC based brain games as one way to reverse memory deficits. Now researchers have discovered that aerobic exercise can be very beneficial when added to the treatment regimen. According to Semel Institute senior research psychologist Joe Ventura “It’s looking like exercising the body along with the mind has the potential to alter the course of schizophrenia, especially if the treatment is applied early in the disorder.”