Impairments of motor function while multitasking in HIV

Sharif I. Kronemer, Jordan A. Mandel, Ned C. Sacktor, Cherie L. Marvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) became a treatable illness with the introduction of combination antiretroviral therapy (CART). As a result, patients with regular access to CART are expected to live decades with HIV. Long-term HIV infection presents unique challenges, including neurocognitive impairments defined by three major stages of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The current investigation aimed to study cognitive and motor impairments in HIV using a novel multitasking paradigm. Unlike current standard measures of cognitive and motor performance in HIV, multitasking increases real-world validity by mimicking the dual motor and cognitive demands that are part of daily professional and personal settings (e.g., driving, typing and writing). Moreover, multitask assessments can unmask compensatory mechanisms, normally used under single task conditions, to maintain performance. This investigation revealed that HIV+ participants were impaired on the motor component of the multitask, while cognitive performance was spared. A patient-specific positive interaction between motor performance and working memory recall was driven by poor HIV+ multitaskers. Surprisingly, HAND stage did not correspond with multitask performance and a variety of commonly used assessments indicated normal motor function among HIV+ participants with poor motor performance during the experimental task. These results support the use of multitasks to reveal otherwise hidden impairment in chronic HIV by expanding the sensitivity of clinical assessments used to determine HAND stage. Future studies should examine the capability of multitasks to predict performance in personal, professional and health-related behaviors and prognosis of patients living with chronic HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number212
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 28 2017


  • Cognition
  • HIV
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND)
  • Motor
  • Multitasking
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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