Callosal Degradation in HIV-1 Infection Predicts Hierarchical Perception: a DTI Study


Müller-Oehring, E. M., Schulte, T., Rosenbloom, M. J., Pfefferbaum, A., & Sullivan, E. V. (2010). Callosal degradation in HIV-1 infection predicts hierarchical perception: a DTI study. Neuropsychologia, 48(4), 1133-1143.


HIV-1 infection affects white matter circuits linking frontal, parietal, and subcortical regions that subserve visuospatial attention processes. Normal perception requires the integration of details, preferentially processed in the left hemisphere, and the global composition of an object or scene, preferentially processed in the right hemisphere. We tested whether HIV-related callosal white matter degradation contributes to disruption of selective lateralized visuospatial and attention processes. A hierarchical letter target detection paradigm was devised, where large (global) letters were composed of small (local) letters. Participants were required to identify target letters among distractors presented at global, local, both or neither level. Attention was directed to one (global or local) or both levels. Participants were 21 HIV-1 infected and 19 healthy control men and women who also underwent Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI). HIV-1 participants showed impaired hierarchical perception owing to abnormally enhanced global facilitation effects but no impairment in attentional control on local–global feature selection. DTI metrics revealed poorer fiber integrity of the corpus callosum in HIV-1 than controls that was more pronounced in posterior than anterior regions. Analysis revealed a double dissociation of anterior and posterior callosal compromise in HIV-1 infection: compromise in anterior but not posterior callosal fiber integrity predicted response conflict elicited by global targets, whereas compromise in posterior but not anterior callosal fiber integrity predicted response facilitation elicited by global targets. We conclude that component processes of visuospatial perception are compromised in HIV-1 infection attributable, at least in part, to degraded callosal microstructural integrity relevant for local–global feature integration.

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