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Speed of Processing Training Resulted in Significant Improvements for Individuals With HAND

There is a vast unmet need for non-pharmacological treatment strategies to protect and improve cognitive function in the approximately 50% of adults living with HIV who experience HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND).

Speed of processing (SOP) training (a particular computerized cognitive training program) has been shown to improve neurocognitive function in both older adults and adults living with HIV, and now investigators with the University of Alabama at Birmingham are evaluating whether SOP boosts the rate of visual information processing in adults with HAND. The results from the ongoing THINKFAST study were presented in a poster at the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Conference (ANAC 2019).

In an interview at the conference, Contagion® sat down with presenting author David Vance, PhD, MGS, MA, BS, associate dean for research at the School of Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, to discuss the data. 

A cognitive battery test was used to determine whether participants, who were HIV+ adults 40 years of age and older, had HAND or borderline HAND. If they did, participants were then randomized to 1 of 3 study groups: 1) 1) 10 hours of SOP training (n=52); 2) 20 hours of SOP training (n=54); or 3) 10 hours of Internet (control) training (n=53). Using the Useful Field of View (UFOV) test, investigators performed assessments at baseline and post-test to evaluate rates of visual processing.

Participants randomized into the 20-hour SOP training arm showed significant improvement (p<0.001) in visual SOP after controlling at baseline for UFOV performance. Participants in the 10-hour SOP training group showed the next best improvement.

“Other studies in older adults without HIV have also observed improvements in locus of control, driving safety, health-related quality of life, and self-rate health after receiving SOP training,” investigators concluded. “As it is hypothesized that this cognitive training provides widespread neural activation in the brain that provides these transfer effects, the aim of the THINKFAST study will also examine whether improvements in these other therapeutic benefits are observed.”

The poster, “Does Speed of Processing Training Improve Cognitive Efficiency in Adults with HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorder? Findings from the THINKFAST Study,” was presented Thursday, November 7, 2019, at the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care Conference (ANAC 2019) in Portland, Oregon.
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