Abstract

Dementia is a common disorder affecting neuropsychological function in several spheres of mental activity including language memory, visuospatial function, and cognition. Studies into the cognitive deficits associated with dementia have allowed researchers to rank disorders into two subclasses: cortical and subcortical dementia. Cortical dementias such as Alzheimer's disease have been the focus of a plethora of studies. Subcortical dementia, which is commonly found in Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease patients, is marked by bradyphrenia, visuospatial abnormalities, personality alterations, memory disturbances primarily involving recall but not recognition, and loss of executive functions. The most recent disorder to be classified as a cause of subcortical dementia is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Several studies have focused on memory disturbances associated with HIV infection but few have looked at the affects of the disease on executive function. The current study examined executive functioning, immediate recall, and prospective memory in patients with HIV, HD, older adult controls, and younger adult controls. The young adults performed significantly higher than the older adults and the HIV group on the Color-Word score of the Stroop test. The HIV group did not perform significantly differently from either of the control groups on any of the other measures. A Huntington's patient was analyzed using a case study method. The results suggest that HIV patients do not display significant signs of frontal mediated or executive function loss but several promising trends in the data are discussed. Further research is needed using larger group sizes and improving on several other limitations of the tests used in this study.

Disciplines

Psychology

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Psychology Commons

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