Interactive effects of HIV and ageing on neural oscillations: independence from neuropsychological performance

Brandon J. Lew, Jennifer O'neill, Michael T. Rezich, Pamela E. May, Howard S. Fox, Susan Swindells, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


HIV infection is associated with increased age-related co-morbidities including cognitive deficits, leading to hypotheses of HIV-related premature or accelerated ageing. Impairments in selective attention and the underlying neural dynamics have been linked to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder; however, the effect of ageing in this context is not yet understood. Thus, the current study aimed to identify the interactive effects of ageing and HIV on selective attention processing. A total of 165 participants (92 controls, 73 participants with HIV) performed a visual selective attention task while undergoing magnetoencephalography and were compared cross-sectionally. Spectrally specific oscillatory neural responses during task performance were imaged and linked with selective attention function. Reaction time on the task and regional neural activity were analysed with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) models aimed at examining the age-by-HIV interaction term. Finally, these metrics were evaluated with respect to clinical measures such as global neuropsychological performance, duration of HIV infection and medication regimen. Reaction time analyses showed a significant HIV-by-age interaction, such that in controls older age was associated with greater susceptibility to attentional interference, while in participants with HIV, such susceptibility was uniformly high regardless of age. In regard to neural activity, theta-specific age-by-HIV interaction effects were found in the prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices. In participants with HIV, neuropsychological performance was associated with susceptibility to attentional interference, while time since HIV diagnosis was associated with parietal activity above and beyond global neuropsychological performance. Finally, current efavirenz therapy was also related to increased parietal interference activity. In conclusion, susceptibility to attentional interference in younger participants with HIV approximated that of older controls, suggesting evidence of HIV-related premature ageing. Neural activity serving attention processing indicated compensatory recruitment of posterior parietal cortex as participants with HIV infection age, which was related to the duration of HIV infection and was independent of neuropsychological performance, suggesting an altered trajectory of neural function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfcaa015
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • HIV
  • ageing
  • attention
  • magnetoencephalography
  • theta

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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