The age-related trajectory of visual attention neural function is altered in adults living with HIV: A cross-sectional MEG study

Yasra Arif, Alex I. Wiesman, Jennifer O'Neill, Christine Embury, Pamela E. May, Brandon J. Lew, Mikki D. Schantell, Howard S. Fox, Susan Swindells, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: Despite living a normal lifespan, at least 35% of persons with HIV (PWH) in resource-rich countries develop HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND). This high prevalence of cognitive decline may reflect accelerated ageing in PWH, but the evidence supporting an altered ageing phenotype in PWH has been mixed. Methods: We examined the impact of ageing on the orienting of visual attention in PWH using dynamic functional mapping with magnetoencephalography (MEG) in 173 participants age 22–72 years-old (94 uninfected controls, 51 cognitively-unimpaired PWH, and 28 with HAND). All MEG data were imaged using a state-of-the-art beamforming approach and neural oscillatory responses during attentional orienting were examined for ageing, HIV, and cognitive status effects. Findings: All participants responded slower during trials that required attentional reorienting. Our functional mapping results revealed HIV-by-age interactions in left prefrontal theta activity, alpha oscillations in the left parietal, right cuneus, and right frontal eye-fields, and left dorsolateral prefrontal beta activity (p<.005). Critically, within PWH, we observed a cognitive status-by-age interaction, which revealed that ageing impacted the oscillatory gamma activity serving attentional reorienting differently in cognitively-normal PWH relative to those with HAND in the left temporoparietal, inferior frontal gyrus, and right prefrontal cortices (p<.005). Interpretation: This study provides key evidence supporting altered ageing trajectories across vital attention circuitry in PWH, and further suggests that those with HAND exhibit unique age-related changes in the oscillatory dynamics serving attention function. Additionally, our neural findings suggest that age-related changes in PWH may serve a compensatory function. Funding: National Institutes of Health, USA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103065
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Ageing
  • Attentional reorientation
  • HIV
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Validity effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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