Overlapping Risky Decision-Making and Olfactory Processing Ability in HIV-Infected Individuals | Abstract

Clinical and Experimental Psychology


Overlapping Risky Decision-Making and Olfactory Processing Ability in HIV-Infected Individuals

Christopher Jackson, Narayan Rai, Charlee K McLean, Maria Mananita S Hipolito, Flora Terrell Hamilton, Suad Kapetanovic and Evaristus A Nwulia

Objective: Given neuroimaging evidences of overlap in the circuitries for decision-making and olfactory processing, we examined the hypothesis that impairment in psychophysical tasks of olfaction would independently predict poor performances on Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a laboratory task that closely mimics real-life decisionmaking, in a US cohort of HIV-infected (HIV+) individuals. Method: IGT and psychophysical tasks of olfaction were administered to a Washington DC-based cohort of largely African American HIV+ subjects (N=100), and to a small number of demographically-matched non-HIV healthy controls (N=43) from a different study. Constructs of olfactory ability and decision-making were examined through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Structural equation models (SEMs) were used to evaluate the validity of the path relationship between these two constructs Result: The 100 HIV+ participants (56% female; 96% African Americans; median age = 48 years) had median CD4 count of 576 cells/μl and median HIV RNA viral load <48 copies per milliliter. Majority of HIV+ participants performed randomly throughout the course of IGT tasks, and failed to demonstrate a learning curve. Confirmatory factor analysis provided support for a unidimensional factor underlying poor performances on IGT. Nomological validity for correlations between olfactory ability and IGT performance was confirmed through SEM. Finally, factor scores of olfactory ability and IGT performance strongly predicted 6 months history of drug use, while olfaction additionally predicted hallucinogen use. Conclusion: This study suggests that combination of simple, office-based tasks of olfaction and decision-making may identify those HIV+ individuals who are more prone to risky decision-making. This finding may have significant clinical, public health value if joint impairments in olfaction and IGT task correlates with more decreased activity in brain regions relevant to decision-making.