Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society

Brief Communications

Self-generation Enhances Verbal Recall in Individuals Infected with HIV

Erica Webera1a2, Steven Paul Woodsa1 c1, Emily Kellogga1, Igor Granta1, Michael R. Bassoa3 and The HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program (HNRP) Group

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, La Jolla, California

a2 Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego State University, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Despite the prevalence of HIV-associated episodic memory impairment and its adverse functional impact, there are no empirically validated cognitive rehabilitation strategies for HIV-infected persons. The present study examined the self-generation approach, which is theorized to enhance new learning by elaborating and deepening encoding. Participants included 54 HIV-infected and 46 seronegative individuals, who learned paired word associates in both self-generated and didactic encoding experimental conditions. Results revealed main effects of HIV serostatus and encoding condition, but no interaction. Planned comparisons showed that both groups recalled significantly more words learned in the self-generation condition, and that HIV+ individuals recalled fewer words overall compared to their seronegative counterparts at delayed recall. Importantly, HIV+ participants with clinical memory impairment evidenced similar benefits of self-generation compared to unimpaired HIV+ subjects. Self-generation strategies may improve verbal recall in individuals with HIV infection and may, therefore, be an appropriate and potentially effective cognitive rehabilitation tool in this population. (JINS, 2012, 18, 128–133)

(Received June 15 2011)

(Revised August 16 2011)

(Accepted August 16 2011)


c1 Correspondence and reprint requests to: Steven Paul Woods, HIV Neurobehavioral Research Program, 220 Dickinson Street, Suite B, Mail Code 8231, San Diego, California 92103-8231. E-mail: