About

BrainBrain Image

Since the beginning of the HIV epidemic, almost 65 million people have been infected worldwide. Although antiretroviral treatment has increased life expectancy amongst persons living with HIV/AIDS neurocognitive impairment is still very prevalent. Functional neuroimaging research in HIV has traditionally focused on the effects of HIV disease progression on neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment. In addition to this accelerated “brain aging” we are particularly interested in the effects HIV on the neural networks supporting the regulation of heart rate and blood pressure.

 

 

Respiration

Lungs Image

Breath is essential to life. Pulmonary disorders are common in persons living with HIV/AIDS due to chronic bronchial infection, sleep disordered breathing, smoking, and airway obstruction secondary to HIV-associated lipodystrophy. Disordered timing, volume, and flow of air influence the variability of heart rate and blood pressure. Pace of breath is also essential to the relaxation response. Our work examines the effect of paced breath and breathlessness on cardioautonomic and psychoneuroimmunological function.


Cardiorespiratory fitness is also negatively impacted by chronic HIV infection. Indexed by performance measures such as V02 max testing increased fitness levels relate to better cardioautonomic functioning in persons living with HIV. Moreover, our lab is interested in the neuroprotective effects of cardiorespiratory fitness across the age and disease spectrum.

 

EmbodimentBrain Image (gears)

For persons living with chronic diseases such as HIV representation of the physiological state of the body, i.e., interoceptive awareness, is imperative for the assimilation of pain, affect and autonomic arousal. Our lab is interested in the cortical representation of heart rate and inflammation in the periphery and how poor assimilation of this information may be reflected in psychosomatic disorders such as panic disorder, sickness behavior, and alexithymia in persons with and without HIV.

 

 

 

AffectStress guage

Depression and anxiety are two of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in individuals living with HIV disease with incidence rates estimated to be upwards of 40% across the lifespan. Persons living with HIV are also at greater risk for chronic stress due to a host of psychosocial factors ranging from interpersonal conflict and mistrust to bereavement. Other forms of psychological disturbance such as depression are also prevalent in HIV. The BREATH lab focuses on the relationship between affect and immune dysfunction in HIV by examining stress biology and sickness behavior from the perspective of inflammatory-immune function.

 

 

Translational HealthBrain on Bike

Unlike the beginning of the epidemic HIV disease related mortality today is primarily attributed cardiovascular events. The increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality and poor disease management in persons living with HIV has been linked to a host of medical and behavioral factors.  The ultimate goal of our interdisciplinary research is to elucidate the mechanisms for inflammatory-immune and cardiovascular disease progression that may inform behavioral health interventions in this population.

 

 

 

 

Doctor and Patient