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Double dissociation of HIV and substance use disorder effects on neurocognitive tasks dependent on striatal integrity

Martin, Eileen M.a; Gonzalez, Raulb; Vassileva, Jasminc; Bechara, Antoined

doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000002291

Objective: Substance use is common among individuals infected with HIV, yet whether neurocognitive effects of HIV can be distinguished from more nonspecific effects of drug dependence and associated comorbidities is not known.

Design: Cross-sectional observational study of neurocognitive function among HIV-infected and uninfected individuals with and without substance use disorders (SUDs).

Methods: We compared the performance of 458 (31% HIV-infected) substance-dependent individuals (SDIs) and 90 individuals (23% HIV-infected) with no history of SUDs on measures of delay discounting and probability learning, tasks, which are differentially sensitive to addictive processes and HIV serostatus, respectively.

Results: In factorial analyses of covariance adjusted for age, years of education, and sex, we found that SDIs showed significantly higher rates of delay discounting, regardless of HIV serostatus (P < 0.05). Conversely, HIV-infected individuals performed significantly more poorly on probability learning compared with uninfected groups, regardless of SUD history (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Theory-driven cognitive neuropsychological tasks may have the capacity to detect neurocognitive effects of HIV not attributable solely to substance use; evidence from functional neuroimaging studies with more selective neurocognitive probes will be critical for hypothesis testing and mapping underlying brain systems more precisely.

aDepartment of Psychiatry, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois

bDepartment of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami, Florida

cDepartment of Psychiatry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia

dDepartment of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.

Correspondence to Eileen M. Martin, Department of Psychiatry, Rush University Medical Center, 1645 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60612, USA. Tel: +1 312 563 6644; e-mail:

Received 7 March, 2019

Revised 25 April, 2019

Accepted 3 May, 2019

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