Transforming treatments for schizophrenia: Virtual reality, brain stimulation and social cognition.

Kirsten Gainsford, Bernadette Fitzgibbon, Paul B. Fitzgerald, Kate E. Hoy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Schizophrenia is characterised by delusions, hallucinations, anhedonia and apathy; while impairments in social cognition are often less recognised. Poor social cognition can lead to difficulties in obtaining and maintaining employment, academic progression, interpersonal relationships, and community functioning. Current interventions are highly intensive, require significant resources and have only modest effects on functional outcomes. Virtual reality (VR) and non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS) may have a role in addressing these limitations. VR allows treatments that are potentially more accessible, less delivery intensive, and have higher ecological validity. While NIBS is able to directly modulate activity in social brain areas in order to promote neuroplasticity, strengthen neural connections and enhance brain function related to social cognitive behaviours. Therefore, the combination of VR and NIBS may allow for more efficient and transferrable interventions than those currently available. This review will explore the potential role of these technologies in the treatment of social cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112974
Number of pages10
JournalPsychiatry Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Default mode network
  • Ecological validity
  • Emotion recognition
  • Functional outcome
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Temporoparietal junction
  • Theory of mind

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