This application proposes a predoctoral training program aimed at investigating the effects of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and recent illicit drug use on cognitive function in women. The training program involves mentored, didactic, and experiential research training in three primary areas: 1) substance abuse;2) HIV;3) neuroimaging;and 4) statistical methods. The training program is an important step in achieving the applicant's career goal of becoming an independent investigator focusing on cognition and addictive behaviors in women. Within this broader goal, the general aim of the proposed research training program is to better understand the interactive effects of HIV and recent crack cocaine use on cognitive function. This training program would draw on data collected in the Women's Interagency HIV Study, a prospective study of the natural and treated history of HIV. The first project is a behavioral study examining the interactive effects of HIV and crack cocaine use on measures of executive strategies (i.e. semantic clustering) on tests of episodic memory. It is predicted that crack cocaine users will show decreased strategic executive function compared to non-drug abusing women and these effects will be more pronounced among HIV + women. The second project is a neuroimaging study examining the interactive effects of HIV and crack cocaine use on delayed episodic memory and memory systems in women. The motivation for examining these topics comes from: a) pilot data suggesting that recent crack cocaine use negatively impacts memory in HIV+ but not HIV- women;and b) recent publications in WIHS showing that HIV serostatus impacts delayed episodic memory and memory systems subserving delayed episodic memory. From this, it is predicted that recent illicit drug use will be associated with impaired delayed episodic memory, impaired executive strategies on episodic memory tasks, and altered prefrontal cortex activation during performance of a delayed episodic memory task. Critically, it is predicted that these effects will be more pronounced in HIV+ women versus at-risk, HIV-women. This training program would add to the understanding of cognition and addictive behaviors in women with HIV and would serve as a solid foundation for a future independent academic career.
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