Neurocognition and social cognition training as treatments for violence and aggression in people with severe mental illness

MacKenzie T. Jones, Philip D. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Aggressive and violent behavior, including both verbal and physical aggression, have considerable adverse consequences for people with schizophrenia. There are several potential causes of violent behavior on the part of people with severe mental illness, which include intellectual impairments, cognitive and social-cognitive deficits, skills deficits, substance abuse, antisocial features, and specific psychotic features. This review explores the interventions that have been tested to this date. Computerized Cognitive Training (CCT) or Computerized Social-Cognitive Training (CSCT) have been associated with reductions in violence. Combined CCT and CSCT have been found to improve social cognition and neurocognition, as well as everyday functioning when combined with rehabilitation interventions. These interventions have been shown to reduce violence in schizophrenia patients across multiple environments, including forensic settings. The reductions in violence and aggression have manifested in various ways, including reduced violent thinking and behavior, reduced physical and violent assaults, and reduced disruptive and aggressive behaviors. Effects of cognitive training may be associated with improvements in problem-solving and the increased ability to deploy alternative strategies. The effect of social cognition training on violence reduction appears to be direct, with improvements in violence related to the extent of improvement in social cognition. There are still remaining issues to be addressed in the use of CCT and CSCT, and the benefits should not be overstated; however, the results of these interventions are very promising.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-153
Number of pages9
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Violence
  • aggression
  • computerized training
  • neurocognition
  • schizophrenia
  • social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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