Computational Modeling Reveals Distinct Effects of HIV and History of Drug Use on Decision-Making Processes in WomenReport as inadecuate

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Drug users and HIV-seropositive individuals often show deficits in decision-making; however the nature of these deficits is not well understood. Recent studies have employed computational modeling approaches to disentangle the psychological processes involved in decision-making. Although such approaches have been used successfully with a number of clinical groups including drug users, no study to date has used computational modeling to examine the effects of HIV on decision-making. In this study, we use this approach to investigate the effects of HIV and drug use on decision-making processes in women, who remain a relatively understudied population.


Fifty-seven women enrolled in the Women-s Interagency HIV Study WIHS were classified into one of four groups based on their HIV status and history of crack cocaine and-or heroin drug use DU: HIV+-DU+ n = 14; HIV+-DU− n = 17; HIV−-DU+ n = 14; and HIV−-DU− n = 12. We measured decision-making with the Iowa Gambling Task IGT and examined behavioral performance and model parameters derived from the best-fitting computational model of the IGT.


Although groups showed similar behavioral performance, HIV and DU exhibited differential relationship to model parameters. Specifically, DU was associated with compromised learning-memory and reduced loss aversion, whereas HIV was associated with reduced loss aversion, but was not related to other model parameters.


Results reveal that HIV and DU have differential associations with distinct decision-making processes in women. This study contributes to a growing line of literature which shows that different psychological processes may underlie similar behavioral performance in various clinical groups and may be associated with distinct functional outcomes.

Author: Jasmin Vassileva , Woo-Young Ahn, Kathleen M. Weber, Jerome R. Busemeyer, Julie C. Stout, Raul Gonzalez, Mardge H. Cohen



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