Current HIV/AIDS Reports

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 289–298 | Cite as

Novel Neuroimaging Methods to Understand How HIV Affects the Brain

  • Paul M. ThompsonEmail author
  • Neda JahanshadEmail author
Central Nervous System and Cognition (SS Spudich, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Central Nervous System and Cognition


In much of the developed world, the HIV epidemic has largely been controlled by antiretroviral treatment. Even so, there is growing concern that HIV-infected individuals may be at risk for accelerated brain aging and a range of cognitive impairments. What promotes or resists these changes is largely unknown. There is also interest in discovering factors that promote resilience to HIV and combat its adverse effects in children. Here, we review recent developments in brain imaging that reveal how the virus affects the brain. We relate these brain changes to changes in blood markers, cognitive function, and other patient outcomes or symptoms, such as apathy or neuropathic pain. We focus on new and emerging techniques, including new variants of brain MRI. Diffusion tensor imaging, for example, can map the brain’s structural connections, while fMRI can uncover functional connections. Finally, we suggest how large-scale global research alliances, such as ENIGMA, may resolve controversies over effects where evidence is now lacking. These efforts pool scans from tens of thousands of individuals and offer a source of power not previously imaginable for brain imaging studies.


Neuroimaging MRI Brain connectivity Atrophy Cortical thinning 



PT and NJ are supported in part by grants from the NIH, including the NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) Initiative under U54 EB020403 (PI: Thompson); Neurodevelopment and imaging among HIV-infected Children from the PREDICT study, R01 MH089722; Predicting Brain Changes in HIV/AIDS, R01 NS080655; and Determinants of Resilience in Youth with HIV Infection and Youth Affected by HIV, R01 MH102151.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Paul Thompson and Neda Jahanshad declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Keck School of Medicine of USC, Imaging Genetics CenterUniversity of Southern CaliforniaMarina del ReyUSA

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