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Neuropsychology. 2008 Nov;22(6):776-86. doi: 10.1037/a0013404.

Deficits in complex motor functions, despite no evidence of procedural learning deficits, among HIV+ individuals with history of substance dependence.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois-Chicago, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and drugs of abuse affect common neural systems underlying procedural memory, including the striatum. The authors compared performance of 48 HIV seropositive (HIV+) and 48 HIV seronegative (HIV-) participants with history of cocaine and/or heroin dependence across multiple Trial Blocks of three procedural learning (PL) tasks: Rotary Pursuit (RP), Mirror Star Tracing (MST), and Weather Prediction (WP). Groups were well matched on demographic, psychiatric, and substance use parameters, and all participants were verified abstinent from drugs. Mixed model analyses of variance revealed that the individuals in the HIV+ group performed more poorly across all tasks, with a significant main effect of HIV serostatus observed on the Mirror Star Tracing and a trend toward significance obtained for the Rotary Pursuit task. No significant differences were observed on the Weather Prediction task. Both groups demonstrated significant improvements in performance across all three procedural learning tasks. It is important to note that no significant Serostatus x Trial Block interactions were observed on any task. Thus, the individuals in the HIV+ group tended to perform worse than those in the HIV- group across all trial blocks of procedural learning tasks with motor demands, but showed no differences in their rate of improvement across all tasks. These findings are consistent with HIV--associated deficits in complex motor skills, but not in procedural learning.

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