Does HIV infection affect brain connectivity and cognitive performance?

May 10, 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

A new study has shown that compared to HIV-negative young adults, those positive for HIV infection with limited or no treatment history had significant disruptions in whole brain structural networks, poorer strength and efficiency of connections, and corresponding reductions in cognitive performance. Performance on learning/recall tasks was worse with increasing abnormalities in brain structural organization, as reported in Brain Connectivity.

In the article "Topological Organization of Whole-Brain White Matter in HIV Infection," the researchers describe the novel aspects of this study in which the subjects were young HIV-positive adults without previous treatment that could confound brain connectivity measures. In addition, the measures of used were functionally relevant to the detectable changes in brain connectivity.

Laurie Baker, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Sarah Cooley, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and coauthors from University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine (Los Angeles, CA), Brown University (Providence, RI), University of Cape Town and MRC Unit on Anxiety & Stress Disorders (Cape Town, South Africa), and Missouri Institute of Mental Health concluded that anatomical - as determined in this study using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to assess the organizational structure of and whole brain networks - is a useful, noninvasive biomarker of white matter disruption in HIV infection.

"The most interesting aspect of this study was that it was performed in with limited or no history of HIV treatment. It is extremely rare to detect any changes in brain structure and function in a population of young adults unless there is a serious neurological disease or condition present," states Christopher Pawela, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Brain Connectivity. "The fact that the authors were able to detect changes in such a resilient young population gives credence to the hypothesis that HIV infection is associated with brain alternations and corresponding abnormalities in cognitive abilities."

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health under Award Number MH085604. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Explore further: New quantitative technique shows microstructural brain alternations in autism spectrum disorder

More information: Laurie M. Baker et al, Topological Organization of Whole-Brain White Matter in HIV Infection, Brain Connectivity (2017). DOI: 10.1089/brain.2016.0457

Related Stories

New quantitative technique shows microstructural brain alternations in autism spectrum disorder

November 16, 2016
A new study found significant changes in white matter pathways in the brains of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a novel technique called Automated Fiber Quantification (AFQ). Evidence of both increases ...

Changes in brain connectivity can help diagnose and predict outcomes of mild TBI

February 23, 2017
A new study shows that patients with mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), even without evidence of brain lesions, may exhibit changes in brain connectivity detectable at the time of the injury that can aid in diagnosis and ...

Altered brain connectivity may explain cognitive impairment in pediatric leukemia survivors

May 18, 2016
The neurotoxic effects of chemotherapeutic drugs on the developing brains of young patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may impair their cognitive functioning by disrupting the formation of neural networks that ...

Epilepsy alters organization of brain networks and functional efficiency

April 29, 2015
Epilepsy, a disorder characterized by abnormal neuronal activity in certain regions of the brain, leads to organizational changes that can alter brain efficiency at the level of the whole brain. This occurs across functional ...

How does brain functional connectivity change from the awake to unconscious state?

February 8, 2017
A new study examined how brain functional connectivity patterns change over the continuum from wakefulness to being in an anesthesia-induced state of unconsciousness. The results, which demonstrate dynamic changes associated ...

Researchers identify group of brain structural networks linked to loss of cognitive function

November 2, 2016
The decreased expression of some structural covariance networks (SCNs) in the brain is associated with advancing age, whereas other networks are less affected by age, and a new study now points to the independent effects ...

Recommended for you

New wearable brain scanner allows patients to move freely for the first time

March 21, 2018
A new generation of brain scanner, that can be worn like a helmet allowing patients to move naturally whilst being scanned, has been developed by researchers at the Sir Peter Mansfield Imaging Centre, University of Nottingham ...

International team confirms new genetic mutation link to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

March 21, 2018
Kinesin family member 5A (KIF5A), a gene previously linked to two rare neurodegenerative disorders, has been definitively connected to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by an international team from several of the world's ...

New ALS gene points to common role of cytoskeleton in disease

March 21, 2018
An international team of researchers led by John Landers, PhD, at UMass Medical School, and Bryan Traynor, MD, PhD, at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has identified KIF5A as a ...

Neuroscientists develop potential tools for the study of brain function

March 21, 2018
A team of University of Missouri neuroscientists are inching closer to developing the tools needed to decipher the brain. In 2015, the team received a National Science Foundation Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research ...

Researchers listen for silent seizures with 'brain stethoscope' that turns brain waves into sound

March 21, 2018
When a doctor or nurse suspects something is wrong with a patient's heart, there's a simple way to check: put a stethoscope over the heart and listen to the sounds it makes. Doctors and nurses can use the same diagnostic ...

Amygdala neurons increase as children become adults—except in autism

March 20, 2018
In a striking new finding, researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute found that typically-developing children gain more neurons in a region of the brain that governs social and emotional behavior, the amygdala, as they become ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.