Impaired verbal memory in individuals living with HIV and cocaine dependence

Sarah E. Nigro, Minjie Wu, Anthony C. Juliano, T. Celeste Napier, Alan L. Landay, Audrey L. French, Shaolin Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Our study aimed to understand the independent and combined effects of cocaine dependence and HIV status across aspects of verbal memory. Method: Our sample consisted of a total of 102 individuals: 28 individuals living with HIV and cocaine dependence (HIV+/CD), 28 individuals who are HIV-negative with cocaine dependence (HIV-/CD), 20 individuals living with HIV without cocaine dependence (HIV+/ND), and 26 individuals who are HIV-negative without cocaine dependence (HIV-/ND). We utilized the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised Version (HVLT-R) to assess components of verbal memory, including encoding, recall, and recognition. A 2 (HIV: Yes/No) × 2 (Cocaine: Yes/No) MANCOVA on Total and Delayed Recall while controlling for premorbid intelligence was conducted. We used a Kruskal-Wallis H test to examine retrieval and recognition. Results: The combination of HIV and cocaine dependence amplified deficits on Total Recall. We found comparably poor performance across Delayed Recall between all three clinical groups. People living with HIV without cocaine dependence demonstrated intact recognition, whereas those with cocaine dependence had poor recognition. Conclusions: HIV and cocaine both impacted verbal memory. However, there are potential subtle differences in the role cocaine versus HIV has on the memory process. People living with HIV without cocaine dependence recognized significantly more words than they could freely recall. In contrast, cocaine dependence impacted recognition in HIV and non-HIV groups. These performance patterns suggest HIV may be associated with retrieval deficits, whereas cocaine dependence may be associated with encoding deficits. Further research assessing these specific components of the memory process will help clarify these potential differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-145
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cocaine
  • HIV
  • HVLT
  • substance use
  • verbal memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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