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Arch Clin Neuropsychol. 2010 Dec;25(8):724-33. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acq069. Epub 2010 Sep 27.

Spontaneous strategy use protects against visual working memory deficits in older adults infected with HIV.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, USA. spwoods@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that older human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults are at particular risk for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND), including dementia. Deficits in attention/working memory are posited to play a central role in the development of HAND among older adults. The aim of the present study was to examine the possible protective benefits of spontaneous strategy use during a visual working memory task in 46 older and 42 younger adults infected with HIV. Results revealed a significant interaction between age and strategy use, with older adults who used a meta-cognitive strategy demonstrating superior working memory performance versus non-strategy users. This effect was not observed in the younger HIV-infected sample and was not better explained by possible confounding factors, such as education, comorbid medical conditions, or HIV disease severity. Within the older group, strategy use was associated with better executive functions and higher estimated verbal intelligence. Findings from this study suggest that working memory declines in older HIV-infected adults are moderated by the use of higher-level mnemonic strategies and may inform cognitive neurorehabilitation efforts to improve cognitive and everyday functioning outcomes in older persons living with HIV infection.

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