HIV is associated with frontostriatal dysregulation and executive dysfunction. This study evaluated whether HIV-infected individuals evidence deficits in random number generation (RNG), which is a strategic task requiring paced, rule-guided production of digits.
In total, 74 HIV+ adults and 54 seronegative comparison participants completed a comprehensive research neuropsychological battery. Participants produced a random digit sequence by avoiding any order and using numbers 1 through 10 for 100 s at a pace of 1 digit/s. Outcomes included intrusions, repetitions, seriation (1-2-3-4), and cycling (median length of gaps between repeating digits).
HIV disease was associated with higher levels of seriation and cycling (ps < .05) but not intrusions or repetitions (ps > .10). Among HIV+ individuals, higher seriation was associated with neuropsychological performance including poorer auditory attention, verbal learning, and delayed memory, whereas higher cycling scores were associated with poorer delayed memory and verbal fluency (ps < .05). Higher seriation also was independently associated with self-reported declines in activities of daily living (ADLs) in the HIV+ group.
Individuals living with HIV disease evidence moderate difficulties in inhibiting statistically unlikely non-random sequences, which showed medium associations with higher order verbal abilities and may contribute to greater declines in everyday functioning outcomes. Future studies might examine RNG's role in health behaviors such as medical decision-making or medication adherence.