Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Changes Brain Connectivity Predicting Long Term Recovery in Psychosis

Posted on February 9, 2017

Psychotic experiences are experiences involving thoughts, mood and perceptions. Abnormalities in these domains can give rise to persecutory delusions, auditory hallucinations and affective dysregulation.

During a psychotic episode, there is an inappropriate engagement of the brain’s fear system, which results in a person having difficulty in separating threats from conscious awareness. This is known as persecutory delusion and can occur in a number of different mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

At present, treatment options include pharmacotherapy, education and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). However, studies have shown that relapse is common and many psychotic symptoms can persevere over time. Therefore, patient assessments, differential diagnoses, and long-term treatments need better guidance to ensure a more consistent pathway to recovery. 

Evidence shows that talking therapies can reduce the distress associated with psychotic thoughts and can dramatically improve a patient’s wellbeing and quality of life. CBT in particular gives patients the opportunity to reframe their thinking around unusual perceptions and paranoid thoughts.

Therefore, the aim of a recently published study in Translational Psychiatry was to determine whether CBT could cause functional connectivity changes in patients with psychosis and whether it would be possible to predict the long-term functional outcome of therapy based on the connectivity differences observed.



Neural changes following Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychosis

Kumari et al. Neural changes following cognitive behaviour therapy for psychosis: a longitudinal study. Brain. 2011: 134; 2396-2407

Brain connectivity changes occurring following cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis

Mason, et al. Brain connectivity changes occurring following cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis predict long-term recovery. Translational Psychiatry. 2017; 7: e1001

CBT and Depression

Yoshimura et al. Cognitive behavioral therapy for depression changes medial prefrontal and ventral anterior cingulate cortex activity associated with self-referential processing. Soc Cog Affect Neuroscience. 2014


Feusner et al. Brain Connectivity and Prediction of Relapse after Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder. Front Psychiatry. 2015

CBT and Panic Disorder

Lueken et al. Neural substrates of treatment response to cognitive-behavioral therapy in panic disorder with agoraphobia. Am J Psychiatry. 2013

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  • Samei Huda

    Hi there is a Mental Elf blog coming soon on this article
    I can’t tell you what it says but will link to it when it’s out

    • Psychscenehub

      Thank you for your input. Will check it out.