Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society


Perceptual span deficits in adults with HIV

DAVID J.  HARDY  a1 c1 , STEVEN A.  CASTELLON  a1 a2 and CHARLES H.  HINKIN  a1 a2
a1 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles
a2 VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System

Article author query
hardy dj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
castellon sa   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
hinkin ch   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Studies have found that infection with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) leads to cognitive dysfunction. In fact, attention problems have been reported to be the most frequent cognitive symptom in HIV-infected adults. One question is how early in the course of information processing can attention impairment be detected? To address this issue, performance on a perceptual span task was examined in 54 HIV-infected adults and 19 seronegative controls. In this task a target had to be identified in a briefly presented (50 ms) array of 1, 4, or 12 letter-characters. Response accuracy was differentially worse in the HIV+ group relative to seronegative controls in the most difficult condition, the 12-item array, but not in the easier conditions. There was no evidence of a group difference in response strategy due to disinhibition or in psychomotor speed. These data suggest that HIV infection leads to a reduction in early visual processing capacity (or span of apprehension). The present results illustrate a new type of attentional deficit in HIV and show the impact of HIV on cognition at an earlier point in information processing than has been previously reported. (JINS, 2004, 10, 135–140.)

(Received October 5 2001)
(Revised May 16 2003)
(Accepted May 19 2003)

Key Words: Perceptual span; HIV infection; Attention.

c1 Reprint requests to: David J. Hardy, Ph.D., UCLA School of Medicine, 760 Westwood Plaza, Room C8-747, Los Angeles, CA 90024. E-mail: