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Delayed recognition memory span in HIV-1 infection

  • Eileen M. Martin (a1) (a2), David L. Pitrak (a3) (a2), Kenneth J. Pursell (a3) (a2), Kathleen M. Mullane (a3) (a2) and Richard M. Novak (a3) (a2)...

We administered a spatial version of the Delayed Recognition Span Test (DRST), a working memory task performed abnormally by patients with basal ganglia disease, to a group of 96 HIV-seropositive and 83 seronegative subjects with a high prevalence of substance abuse. For comparison purposes, we also administered the Symbol-Digit Modalities Test (SDMT) and the Trail Making Test (TMT), measures which detect HIV-related mental slowing efficiently in gay men but are nonspecifically impaired in subjects with a history of substance abuse. As predicted, scores on the TMT and the SDMT did not discriminate the groups, but HIV-seropositive subjects had significantly shorter spatial spans (p < .007) and DRST total scores (p < .005). These effects could not be attributed to differences in age, education, estimated intelligence, or psychological distress, because the groups were well matched on these variables. The DRST is a promising measure of HIV-related cognitive dysfunction in substance abusers, who are often nonspecifically impaired on psychomotor tasks. These preliminary data also indicate that working memory function should be studied further in HIV-seropositive subjects. (JINS, 1995, 1, 575–580.)

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Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
  • ISSN: 1355-6177
  • EISSN: 1469-7661
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