Subjective complaints of cognitive symptoms are related to psychometric findings of memory deficits in patients with HIV-1 infection

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 1996 May;2(3):219-25. doi: 10.1017/s1355617700001156.


Eighty-five subjects at various stages of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) infection and 39 seronegative controls underwent neurological and neuropsychological evaluation to assess the relationship between cognitive test results and subjective complaints (cognitive, affective, motor, and other). The effect of psychiatric disorders on the association between cognitive performance and complaints of the patients was also examined. Patients with symptomatic infection had higher frequency of complaints than subjects at asymptomatic stage. Detailed neuropsychological examination confirmed a strong association between poor verbal memory and cognitive complaints. Poor performance on cognitive speed and flexibility was associated with motor complaints and motor abnormalities. These associations were not explained by psychiatric disorders or elevated depression questionnaire scores. Our observations indicate that, especially in symptomatic HIV-1 infection cognitive changes reported by patients often reflect "objective" cognitive decline, and may be the earliest signs of HIV-1 associated cognitive disorder. No direct relationship was observed between "subjective" complaints and neuropsychological performance of asymptomatic subjects. Understanding the significance of reported cognitive changes have important therapeutic implications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Dementia Complex / diagnosis*
  • AIDS Dementia Complex / psychology
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Neurobehavioral Manifestations* / classification
  • Neuropsychological Tests* / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychometrics
  • Reaction Time
  • Reference Values
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Verbal Learning