A new study published in Schizophrenia Research used the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS) to investigate the correlation between cognitive function and brain activity in the frontal and temporal lobes, measured with NIRS during a memory task. The study was conducted at Tottori University Hospital in Japan, using the Japanese language version of the BACS, to compare 87 patients with schizophrenia to 50 matched controls.

The investigators found a strong connection between higher cognitive function and the activation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), an area involved in many complex cognitive processes such as decision making, memory and attention, and also with the temporal lobe, known for its crucial role in memory and emotions. In addition to using the BACS composite score, they also correlated the individual domain scores with brain activity in above mentioned areas and found specific correlations with single brain regions.

This is the first study to report a significant association between task-related PFC activity and a broad spectrum measure of cognition such as the BACS in schizophrenia, and represents  additional evidence of the BACS sensitivity and application range. Although additional studies are required to determine whether the associations are specific to schizophrenia, the authors suggest working memory-related PFC neural activity may be a useful biomarker in therapeutic development.

Pu et al., (in press), Schizophrenia Research. The association between cognitive deficits and prefrontal hemodynamic responses during performance of working memory task in patients