About this Research Topic
Disturbances of various domains of cognitive function, e.g. several types of memory, executive function, attention, fluency, and attention/information processing, have been shown to provide a major determinant of outcome for patients with psychiatric conditions. Cognitive impairment is present not only in people with dementias, but in an array of diseases, including schizophrenia (with its prodromal stage), mood disorder, autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic disorder, and eating disorder. This is in line with the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative proposed by NIMH, designating the Cognitive System as one of the functional domains whose impairment is pertinent to various operational diagnoses. To attain the aims of such initiative, it is essential to elucidate biological bases for abnormalities of each of the RDoC domains, e.g. the Cognitive System and Negative Valence System.
In an effort to develop effective therapeutics for cognitive impairment, translational approaches, i.e. bridging preclinical and clinical evidence, have been attempted. However, clinical trials of agents, produced through such approaches, have yielded negative results in most cases, indicating a need for further study. To overcome this situation, research into innovative compounds, thought to favorably work on mental activities, is warranted. In addition to novel monoamine receptor agonists/antagonists, candidate agents include; 1) drugs acting on the glutamate system, 2) neurotrophic compounds, 3) anti-inflammatory agents 4) anti-oxidation agents, 5) particular nutrients, such as unsaturated fatty acids. Perhaps, synthesizing compounds based on computer-assisted systems and/or extracting agents from natural products may help search for cognition-enhancing drugs.
There is also a growing trend for non-pharmacologic therapeutics for ameliorating cognitive deficits in psychiatric illnesses. In particular, promising results have been reported for several types of cognitive remediation, or rehabilitation in schizophrenia and other diseases. It is noteworthy that the ability of these cognitive trainings to improve cognitive function has been related to biological measures, e.g. blood levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factors and volumes of brain regions relevant to cognitive function. Emerging evidence also suggests the efficacy of neuromodulation in improving some domains of cognition. These findings should add to efforts to identify the mechanisms and biomarkers for cognitive enhancement.
Besides the implementation of reliable and valid assessment tools of cognition, how cognitive improvement translates into the advantage for social function of individuals with psychiatric conditions is one of the most important research topics. For example, further study should focus on how and to what extent, neurocognition, social cognition, and metacognition are associated with real-world functional outcome. To facilitate evaluation of this link, implementation of objective markers, e.g. neurophysiological, neurochemical, and structural/functional brain imaging methods deserves considerations.
This Research Topic will provide a forum for researchers interested in the phenomenology, underlying mechanisms, and treatment of cognitive impairment associated with psychiatric illnesses. Contributions will include, but not limited to papers dealing with genetic, molecular, imaging, physiological, psychological, and behavioral issues. Overall, information in our Topic will facilitate the development of therapeutics of greater clinical value.
Keywords: Cognition, Functional outcomes, Therapeutics, Assessment, Biomarkers
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