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Lower cognitive reserve in the aging human immunodeficiency virus-infected brain

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Published:25th Mar 2020
More HIV-infected individuals are living longer; however, how their brain function is affected by aging is not well understood. One hundred twenty-two men (56 seronegative control [SN] subjects, 37 HIV subjects with normal cognition [HIV+NC], 29 with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder [HAND]) performed neuropsychological tests and had acceptable functional magnetic resonance imaging scans at 3 Tesla during tasks with increasing attentional load. With older age, SN and HIV+NC subjects showed increased activation in the left posterior (reserve, �bottom-up�) attention network for low attentional-load tasks, and further increased activation in the left posterior and anterior (�top-down�) attention network on intermediate (HIV+NC only) and high attentional-load tasks. HAND subjects had only age-dependent decreases in activation. Age-dependent changes in brain activation differed between the 3 groups, primarily in the left frontal regions (despite similar brain atrophy). HIV and aging act synergistically or interactively to exacerbate brain activation abnormalities in different brain regions, suggestive of a neuroadaptive mechanism in the attention network to compensate for declined neural efficiency. While the SN and HIV+NC subjects compensated for their declining attention with age by using reserve and �top-down� attentional networks, older HAND subjects were unable to compensate which resulted in cognitive decline.

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