HIV-positive females show blunted neurophysiological responses in an emotion-attention dual task paradigm

Jaime L. Tartar, Roger C. McIntosh, Monica Rosselli, Susan M. Widmayer, Allan J. Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Although HIV is associated with decreased emotional and cognitive functioning, the mechanisms through which affective changes can alter cognitive processes in HIV-infected individuals are unknown. We aimed to clarify this question through testing the extent to which emotionally negative stimuli prime attention to a subsequent infrequently occurring auditory tone in HIV+ compared to HIV- females. Methods: Attention to emotional compared to non-emotional pictures was measured via the LPP ERP. Subsequent attention was indexed through the N1 and late processing negativity ERP. We also assessed mood and cognitive functioning in both groups. Results: In HIV- females, emotionally negative pictures, compared to neutral pictures, resulted in an enhanced LPP to the pictures and an enhanced N1 to subsequent tones. The HIV+ group did not show a difference in the LPP measure between picture categories, and accordingly, did not show a priming effect to the subsequent infrequent tones. Conclusions: The ERP findings, combined with neuropsychological deficits, suggest that HIV+ females show impairments in attention to emotionally-laden stimuli and that this impairment might be related to a loss of affective priming. Significance: This study is the first to provide physiological evidence that the LPP, a measure of attention to emotionally-charged visual stimuli, is reduced in HIV-infected individuals. These results set the stage for future work aimed at localizing brain activation to emotional stimuli in HIV+ individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1173
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ERP
  • Emotion
  • Female
  • HIV
  • Late positive potential
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Physiology (medical)


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