Signatures of somatosensory cortical dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder

Chloe C. Casagrande, Alexander I Wiesman, Mikki Schantell, Hallie J. Johnson, Sara L. Wolfson, Jennifer O'Neill, Craig M. Johnson, Pamela E. May, Susan Swindells, Daniel L. Murman, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia in the general population, while HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder is the most common neurological comorbidity in those infected with HIV and affects between 40 and 70% of this population. Both conditions are associated with cognitive impairment and have been associated with aberrant functioning in sensory cortices, but far less is known about their disparate effects on neural activity. Identifying such disparate effects is important because it may provide critical data on the similarities and differences in the neuropathology underlying cognitive decline in each condition. In the current study, we utilized magnetoencephalography, extensive neuropsychological testing and a paired-pulse somatosensory gating paradigm to probe differences in somatosensory processing in participants from two ongoing magnetoencephalography studies. The resulting participant groups included 27 cognitively normal controls, 26 participants with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder and 21 amyloid biomarker- confirmed patients with Alzheimer's disease. The data were imaged using a beamformer and voxel time series were extracted to identify the oscillatory dynamics serving somatosensory processing, as well as the amplitude of spontaneous cortical activity preceding stimulation onset. Our findings indicated that people with Alzheimer's disease and HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder exhibit normal somatosensory gating but have distinct aberrations in other elements of somatosensory cortical function. Essentially, those with Alzheimer's disease exhibited accentuated neural responses to somatosensory stimulation, along with spontaneous gamma activity preceding stimulus onset. In contrast, those with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder exhibited normal responses to somatosensory stimulation but had sharply elevated spontaneous gamma activity prior to stimulus onset. These distinct aberrations may reflect the impact of different neuropathological mechanisms underlying each condition. Further, given the differential pattern of deficits in somatosensory cortical function, these measures may function as unique biomarkers in each condition and be useful in identifying persons with HIV who may go on to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberfcac169
JournalBrain Communications
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • dementia
  • gamma
  • magnetoencephalography
  • oscillations
  • spontaneous activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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