The role of decision-making ability in HIV/AIDS: impact on prospective memory

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2014;36(7):730-41. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2014.935705. Epub 2014 Aug 4.


Background: Prospective memory (ProM), a form of episodic memory related to execution of future intentions, is important for everyday functioning. Among persons living with HIV (PLWH), executive dysfunction is implicated in ProM impairments. However, specific subcomponents of executive functioning involved in ProM deficits remain poorly understood. Unlike more "traditional" neurocognitive (NC) measures of executive functioning associated with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (i.e., conceptual reasoning, abstraction), those associated with medial orbitofrontal/ventromedial prefrontal (mOF/vmP) cortex (i.e., decision making, inhibitory control, goal-oriented behavior) have yet to be examined in ProM.

Method: This study characterized ProM ability in a sample of 89 HIV-seropositive adults and examined the unique role of decision-making ability in ProM. Participants completed a standard NC battery, the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT; a decision-making measure), and the Memory for Intentions Screening Test (MIST; a ProM measure).

Results: Correlational analyses revealed that both traditional executive functioning measures and the IGT were associated with ProM. Regression analyses revealed that the IGT significantly predicted ProM, even after accounting for NC measures. Among all NC measures, only executive functioning significantly contributed to ProM.

Discussion: Further examination of mOF/vmP-sensitive executive dysfunction within this population is needed as PLWH may require more tailored treatment recommendations due to specific decision-making difficulties that can impact medication management.

Keywords: Decision making; Executive function; HIV/AIDS; Neurocognition; Prospective memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Adult
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic*
  • Middle Aged