A Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate if Computerized Cognitive Rehabilitation Improves Neurocognition in Ugandan Children with HIV

November 10, 2016

Authors: Michael J Boivin, Noeline Nakasujja, Alla Sikorskii, Robert O Opoka, Bruno Giordani

Journal: AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses

DOI: 10.1089/AID.2016.0026

Year Published: 2016


Clinically stable children with HIV can have neuromotor, attention, memory, visual-spatial, and executive function impairments. We evaluated neuropsychological and behavioral benefits of computerized cognitive rehabilitation training (CCRT) in Ugandan HIV children.


One hundred fifty-nine rural Ugandan children with WHO Stage I or II HIV disease (6 to 12 years; 77 boys, 82 girls; M = 8.9, SD = 1.86 years) were randomized to one of three treatment arms over a 2-month period.


The CCRT arm received 24 one-hour sessions over 2 months, using Captain’s Log (BrainTrain Corporation) programmed for games targeting working memory, attention, and visual-spatial analysis. These games progressed in difficulty as the child’s performance improved. The second arm was a “limited CCRT” with the same games rotated randomly from simple to moderate levels of training. The third arm was a passive control group receiving no training. All children were assessed at enrollment, 2 months (immediately following CCRT), and 3 months after CCRT completion.


The CCRT group had significantly greater gains through 3 months of follow-up compared to passive controls on overall Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children-second edition (KABC-II) mental processing index (p < .01), planning (p = .04), and knowledge (p = .03). The limited CCRT group performed better than controls on learning (p = .05). Both CCRT arms had significant improvements on CogState Groton maze learning (p < .01); although not on CogState attention/memory, TOVA/impulsivity, or behavior rating inventory for executive function and child behavior checklist (psychiatric behavior/symptom problems) ratings by caregiver.


CCRT intervention can be effective for neurocognitive rehabilitation in children with HIV in low-resource settings, especially in children who are clinically stable on ARV treatment.

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