Future and Past Autobiographical Memory in HIV Disease



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According to the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis, the ability to imagine the future relies on the construction of simulated events from details of past autobiographical memories. Episodic future thinking is impaired in some clinical populations with memory deficits and is associated with activation in prefrontal and temporal regions. Older adults also demonstrate more difficulty with episodic future thinking compared to younger individuals. While HIV disease commonly leads to episodic memory impairment, the ability of people with HIV (PWH) to describe future and past autobiographical events is not well understood. The present study was designed to determine the effects of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) on future and past autobiographical memory and to establish the neurocognitive and everyday functioning correlates of autobiographical memory in HIV disease. Participants included adults aged 50 years and older (24 PWH with HAND, 39 PWH without HAND, and 28 HIV− participants) who completed experimental measures of future and past autobiographical memory in addition to clinical tests of retrospective episodic memory, prospective memory, and executive functions. Overall, participants provided more detailed descriptions when describing past events as compared to future events. Results did not support a significant effect of HAND on future or past autobiographical memory performance, although participants with HIV produced numerically fewer details than seronegative participants at the level of small-to-medium effect sizes. Future and past autobiographical memory were not associated with neurocognitive measures or everyday functioning among participants with HIV. Overall, results do not support the presence of a large HAND-related deficit in autobiographical memory performance, although additional work in this area could help clarify the mechanisms underlying episodic future thinking in older PWH.



declarative memory, HIV, episodic future thinking, imagining, memory for intentions, neuropsychology


Portions of this document appear in: Sullivan, Kelli L., David P. Sheppard, Briana Johnson, Jennifer L. Thompson, Luis D. Medina, Clayton Neighbors, Rodrigo Hasbun, Erin E. Morgan, Shayne Loft, and Steven Paul Woods. "Future and past autobiographical memory in persons with HIV disease." Neuropsychology (2021).