Reward, attention, and HIV-related risk in HIV+ individuals

Brian A. Anderson, Sharif I. Kronemer, Jessica J. Rilee, Ned Sacktor, Cherie L. Marvel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is often contracted through engaging in risky reward-motivated behaviors such as needle sharing and unprotected sex. Understanding the factors that make an individual more vulnerable to succumbing to the temptation to engage in these risky behaviors is important to limiting the spread of HIV. One potential source of this vulnerability concerns the degree to which an individual is able to resist paying attention to irrelevant reward information. In the present study, we examine this possible link by characterizing individual differences in value-based attentional bias in a sample of HIV. + individuals with varying histories of risk-taking behavior. Participants learned associations between experimental stimuli and monetary reward outcome. The degree of attentional bias for these reward-associated stimuli, reflected in their ability to capture attention when presented as task-irrelevant distractors, was then assessed both immediately and six months following reward learning. Value-driven attentional capture was related to substance abuse history and non-planning impulsiveness during the time leading up to contraction of HIV as measured via self-report. These findings suggest a link between the ability to ignore reward-associated information and prior HIV-related risk-taking behavior. Additionally, particular aspects of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders were related to attentional bias, including motor deficits commonly associated with HIV-induced damage to the basal ganglia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016


  • Addiction
  • Attention
  • Basal ganglia
  • Dopamine
  • HIV
  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND)
  • Impulsiveness
  • Learning
  • Reward
  • Risky behavior
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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