Parties, Motivation, and Cognition

As we have noted previously, when the individuals are engaged in a highly salient, meaningful, enjoyable activity, such as planning for or participating in a party, they seem to be totally different from their previous states of withdrawal, often preoccupied with voices, etc. I had suggested that they were in an adaptive mode. This is surprising since our sample of individuals, like those in the hospital, showed that they were approximately 2 SDs below the norm on neurocognitive tests for attention, memory, and executive function. One individual, for example, was able to go through all of the routines in planning for a party, getting all of the essentials and inviting the other participants to the party. Another individual, who scored 2 SDs below the norm on the neurocognitive tests, reached the point in his improvement that he was able to drive a car in heavy traffic. These examples indicated that, clinically, the individuals all showed improvement in affect, interpersonal connections, and rational behavior. In terms of functioning, it is evident that being able to plan and follow through with a party required attention, memory, and flexibility, in addition to reasoning. Further, driving a car in traffic would require an optimum attention, memory, and executive function.

Our current experimental work, showing improvement in self-concept, defeatist attitudes, and mood, following a guided success experience, was supported by collaboration and positive reinforcement by the experimenter. Since the individuals showed a significant improvement on card sorting (a behavioral or neurocognitive test), it would seem to indicate that, even though “neurocognitively impaired,” they were able to show significant improvement on a proxy task. The improved neurocognition, presumably, was based on enhanced motivation. Support for this notion is provided by a study in the literature, which showed that increased motivation resulted in increased performance on neurocognitive tasks (Foussias, 2015, attached).

The bottom line is: no matter how neurocognitively impaired an individual is on these other neurocognitive tests, it is possible to promote his recovery towards a much higher level of functioning. The improvement in positive self-concept, defeatist attitudes, and mood probably generated the motivation for the improvement.