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11 June 2019

Developing a screening tool of social cognitive abilities in schizophrenia and brain injury

Researchers at the University of Newcastle, Australia are developing a screening tool of social cognitive abilities for individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorder or acquired brain injury. Read on to find out how CANTAB is supporting this effort.

Can you tell us more about your research group?

I am a PhD candidate working with Dr Michelle Kelly and Dr Linda Campbell as part of the Priority Research Centre for Brain and Mental Health Research in the School of Psychology at the University of Newcastle (UoN), Australia. The UoN Psychology program ranks in the top 150 in the world and includes research groups in Cognitive Psychology, Health and Clinical Psychology, Sensory, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience and Social and Organisational Psychology.


What is the rationale behind your study?

Social cognitive impairments are defining features of schizophrenia and acquired brain injury; nevertheless there are no well-validated clinical screening measures of social cognition for these populations.

Our study aims to develop and provide initial validation of a brief, easy-to-administer screening tool of social cognitive abilities for use in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorder or acquired brain injury.


Which methods will you use?

To validate our screening measure, behavioural and self-reported data on social cognition, general cognition and social functioning will be collected from a sample of 18-65 year olds, approximately 30 participants per clinical group and their matched controls.

For the neuropsychological battery we are employing the recommended schizophrenia battery, which includes all recommended brain injury assessments. CANTAB will be used as a measure of divergent validity as neurocognitive abilities are different from, and independent of, the changes in social cognition which our measure is designed to capture.


What are the implications of your study?

A valid and comprehensive brief screening measure of social cognition will allow clinicians to better understand impairments in social skills and provide information to the individual, their family and friends and the treating team on social difficulties that the individual experiences that may affect or inform evidence-based treatment.


Why did you choose CANTAB for your study?

We choose to use CANTAB for its comprehensive neuropsychological battery. CANTAB provides specific battery recommendations for different disorders and allows for multiple outcome variables, allowing for a richer analysis. Additionally, the CANTAB batteries are portable, user friendly and easy to administer.


What has been your experience of CANTAB’s training services?

I have had an amazing experience with the CANTAB support team finding them to be approachable and knowledgeable. Since I started using CANTAB Eclipse I have been in contact with the support team to get assistance with administration and assessment recommendations. I have had an amazing liaison, Emma, who showed interest in my research and provided individual recommendations on what assessment modes would be best for my study, answered all queries and provided detailed instructions for any technical problems that I encountered. Our transition from CANTAB Eclipse to CANTAB Connect was seamless with detailed descriptions on how the measures could be compared across platforms, an in-depth training of how to use the connect platform, and ongoing support. 


Interested in how CANTAB can support your research?

Get in touch 

Tags : cantab testimonial | schizophrenia | acquired brain injury

Author portrait

Kimberley Wallis, University of Newcastle, Australia