Executive dyscontrol of episodic verbal learning and memory secondary to prefrontostriatal circuit neuropathophysiology is a common feature of HIV-1 infection. Prior research indicates that standard clinical learning and recall indexes from Hopkins Verbal Learning Test—Revised (HVLT-R) are among the most sensitive indicators of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Emerging data support the validity of qualitative component process measures derived from the HVLT-R (e.g., Semantic Clustering); however, no prior studies have examined these particular indices of performance in an HIV-1-infected population. In the present study, we examined the construct validity of HVLT-R component process indices in a sample of 42 persons with HIV-1 infection and 29 demographically similar seronegative comparison participants. The HIV-1 sample performed significantly below the seronegative group on Total and Delayed Recall, Semantic Clustering, and the Retrieval Index. No between-group differences were observed on Serial Clustering, Pair Frequency, Learning, Repetitions, Semantic False Positive Recognition Errors, or the Recognition Discrimination Index. In addition, the HVLT-R component process measures demonstrated evidence of convergent and divergent validity with standard clinical tests in the HIV-1 sample. Findings support the construct validity of HVLT-R component process measures and are commensurate with prior literature indicating that HIV-1 disease is associated with deficient executive control of encoding and retrieval within verbal episodic memory.

Author notes

Portions of these data were presented at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in St. Louis, MO, USA.