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Neural correlates of attention and working memory deficits in HIV patients

American Academy of Neurology
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Objectives: To evaluate the neural correlates of attention and working memory deficits in patients with HIV-1. Method: fMRI was used to evaluate brain activity in 11 patients with HIV and 11 age-, sex-, education-, and handedness-matched seronegative subjects, while performing a battery of tasks that required different levels of attention for working memory. Results: Patients with HIV showed greater brain activation (blood oxygenation level dependent signal changes) in some regions compared with control subjects while performing the same tasks. For the simpler tasks, patients with HIV showed greater activation in the parietal regions. However, with more difficult tasks, patients with HIV showed greater activation additionally in the frontal lobes. Reaction times during these tasks were slower but accuracy was similar in the patients with HIV compared with control subjects. Conclusion: Injury to the neural substrate caused by HIV infection may necessitate greater attentional modulation of the neural circuits, hence a greater use of the brain reserve; additional activation of the frontal lobes is required to perform the more complex tasks. The task-dependent increased frontal activation in patients with HIV suggests that the neural correlate of attentional deficits may be excessive attentional modulation as a result of frontostriatal brain injury.

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