Examining virtual driving test performance and its relationship to individuals with HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders

David Grethlein, Vanessa Pirrone, Kathryn N. Devlin, Will Dampier, Zsofia Szep, Flaura K. Winston, Santiago Ontañón, Elizabeth A. Walshe, Kim Malone, Shinika Tillman, Beau M. Ances, Venk Kandadai, Dennis L. Kolson, Brian Wigdahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Significance: Existing screening tools for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are often clinically impractical for detecting milder forms of impairment. The formal diagnosis of HAND requires an assessment of both cognition and impairment in activities of daily living (ADL). To address the critical need for identifying patients who may have disability associated with HAND, we implemented a low-cost screening tool, the Virtual Driving Test (VDT) platform, in a vulnerable cohort of people with HIV (PWH). The VDT presents an opportunity to cost-effectively screen for milder forms of impairment while providing practical guidance for a cognitively demanding ADL. Objectives: We aimed to: (1) evaluate whether VDT performance variables were associated with a HAND diagnosis and if so; (2) systematically identify a manageable subset of variables for use in a future screening model for HAND. As a secondary objective, we examined the relative associations of identified variables with impairment within the individual domains used to diagnose HAND. Methods: In a cross-sectional design, 62 PWH were recruited from an established HIV cohort and completed a comprehensive neuropsychological assessment (CNPA), followed by a self-directed VDT. Dichotomized diagnoses of HAND-specific impairment and impairment within each of the seven CNPA domains were ascertained. A systematic variable selection process was used to reduce the large amount of VDT data generated, to a smaller subset of VDT variables, estimated to be associated with HAND. In addition, we examined associations between the identified variables and impairment within each of the CNPA domains. Results: More than half of the participants (N = 35) had a confirmed presence of HAND. A subset of twenty VDT performance variables was isolated and then ranked by the strength of its estimated associations with HAND. In addition, several variables within the final subset had statistically significant associations with impairment in motor function, executive function, and attention and working memory, consistent with previous research. Conclusion: We identified a subset of VDT performance variables that are associated with HAND and assess relevant functional abilities among individuals with HAND. Additional research is required to develop and validate a predictive HAND screening model incorporating this subset.

Original languageEnglish
Article number912766
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Aug 24 2022


  • HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders
  • driving simulator
  • impairment detection
  • screening tool
  • variable selection


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