Investigating the Efficacy of a Top-Down Approach to Cognitive Remediation in Individuals with Affective Disorders

Investigators:  McKinnon, Margaret; Lanius, Ruth; Boyd, Jenna; O’Connor, Charlene; Moniz, Sandy; Hood, Heather; Sousa, Sarah; Protopopescu, Alina

Funding: J.P. Bickell Foundation

Lay Abstract: Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience difficulties in performing tasks that rely on cognitive abilities such as memory, attention, or learning. Such difficulties can reduce functioning in important aspects of an individual’s life, including workplace or educational performance. To date, no research has been conducted to investigate whether cognitive dysfunction can be reduced in individuals with PTSD following a cognitive training program. In this study, we will determine the utility of a cognitive training program called goal management training (GMT) in improving cognitive functioning in PTSD. GMT aims to assist participants in building skills in performing behaviours (such as planning and monitoring progress) that rely on basic cognitive processes (including memory and attention) that will allow them to achieve an identified goals, such as creating a shopping list or planning a trip. GMT has been shown to be effective in other populations who experience similar cognitive difficulties, including older adults and individuals with traumatic brain injuries. In order to determine if GMT is similarly effective for individuals with PTSD, we will recruit 60 individuals with PTSD and split them randomly into two groups of 30, one group will receive GMT, and the other group will receive standard treatment at Homewood Health Centre’s Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery. We predict that in comparison to the standard treatment group, the GMT group will show significantly greater improvements in cognitive functioning and self-reported everyday functioning following completion of the treatment. We also predict that these improvements will be maintained 3 months following treatment. We believe that this research has the ability to have significant positive impact on individuals with PTSD through reducing difficulties in cognitive functioning, leading to improvements in every-day functioning.