Cognitive decision-making is known to be deficient, but relatively less is known about emotional decision-making in schizophrenia. The Iowa gambling task (IGT) is considered a reliable probe of emotional decision-making and believed to reflect orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) function. The expectancy-valence model of IGT performance implicates three dissociable components, namely, attention to reward, memory for past, relative to recent, outcomes and impulsivity in emotional decision-making. We examined IGT performance, its three components, and their grey matter volume (GMV) correlates in 75 stable patients with schizophrenia, relative to 25 healthy individuals. Patients, relative to controls, showed impaired IGT performance and poor memory for past, relative to recent, outcomes. IGT performance correlated with GMV in the OFC in controls, but not patients. There were associations between (a) attention to reward and GMV in the frontal, temporal, parietal and striatal regions in controls, and in the temporal and thalamic regions in patients, (b) memory for past outcomes and GMV in the temporal region in controls, and the frontal and temporal regions in patients, and (c) low impulsivity and greater GMV in the frontal, temporal, posterior cingulate and occipital regions in controls, and in the frontal, temporal and posterior cingulate regions in patients. Most IGT-GMV associations were stronger in controls. It is concluded that (i) poor memory, rather than less attention to reward or impulsivity, contributes to IGT performance deficit, and (ii) the relationship of IGT performance and its components with GMVs especially in the frontal and temporal lobes is lost or attenuated in schizophrenia.
Reward; Impulsivity; Memory; Iowa gambling task; Grey matter
The recreational drug, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine; ‘Ecstasy’), is a synthetic amphetamine derivative and a serotonin neurotoxin. MDMA use is associated with cognitive dysfunction and impulsivity, but since polydrug abuse is common among users it is difficult to attribute these problems specifically to MDMA. Moreover, few studies have examined reward-related cognitive processes. Our aim was to examine reward-related decision-making and impulsivity among MDMA users while controlling for polydrug use via appropriate comparison groups.
We examined decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task; IGT; Bechara et al., 1994), self-reported impulsivity (Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire – Brief Form [Constraint subscale]; Barratt Impulsiveness Scale; Zuckerman Sensation Seeking Scale), and drug use among 22 abstinent MDMA users, 30 other drug users, and 29 healthy non-drug controls.
MDMA and other drug users showed comparable patterns of decision-making and impulsivity. However, both drug groups demonstrated poorer IGT performance and elevated self-reported impulsivity relative to controls. Poorer decision-making was related to heavier drug use in the past year, heavier weekly alcohol use, and meeting lifetime substance use disorder (SUD) criteria for more drug classes. Elevated impulsivity was associated with heavier drug use, heavier weekly alcohol use, more lifetime SUDs, and higher self-reported depression levels.
These findings contradict the idea that MDMA is specifically associated with deficient decision-making. Drug users, in general, may be at risk for decision-making deficits and elevated impulsivity. Such behaviors may represent trait factors that lead to the initiation of drug and alcohol use, and/or they may represent behavior patterns that are exacerbated by extensive use.
MDMA; drug use; alcohol use; executive functions; decision-making; impulsivity
Poor decision-making and executive function deficits are frequently observed in individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), and executive deficits may contribute to poor decision-making in this population. This study examined the influence of lifetime history of an alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or polysubstance use disorder on decision-making as measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) after controlling for executive ability, demographic characteristics, and current substance use. Participants (131 with lifetime history of SUD and 37 controls) completed the IGT and two neuropsychological tests: the Trail Making Test and the Controlled Oral Word Association Test. Control participants performed significantly better than those with a lifetime SUD history on the IGT, but performance on the neuropsychological tests was comparable for the two groups. A lifetime SUD diagnosis was associated with performance on the IGT after controlling for covariates, and Trail Making Test performance was associated with IGT performance in both SUD and control participants.
decision-making; substance use disorder; executive ability; neuropsychological tests; Iowa Gambling Task; Trail Making Test; Controlled Oral Word Association Test
Dopaminergic medication for motor symptoms in Parkinson’s disease (PD) recently has been linked with impulse control disorders, including pathological gambling (PG), which affects up to 8% of patients. PG often is considered a behavioral addiction associated with disinhibition, risky decision-making, and altered striatal dopaminergic neurotransmission. Using [11C]raclopride with positron emission tomography, we assessed dopaminergic neurotransmission during Iowa Gambling Task performance. Here we present data from a single patient with PD and concomitant PG. We noted a marked decrease in [11C]raclopride binding in the left ventral striatum upon gambling, indicating a gambling-induced dopamine release. The results imply that PG in PD is associated with a high dose of dopaminergic medication, pronounced motor symptomatology, young age at disease onset, high propensity for sensation seeking, and risky decision-making. Overall, the findings are consistent with the hypothesis of medication-related PG in PD and underscore the importance of taking clinical variables, such as age and personality, into account when patients with PD are medicated, to reduce the risk of PG.
Parkinson’s disease; pathological gambling; impulse control disorders; decision-making; dopamine
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is sensitive to decision making impairments in several clinical groups with frontal impairment. However the complexity of the IGT, particularly in terms of its learning requirements, makes it difficult to know whether disadvantageous (risky) selections in this task reflect deliberate risk taking or a failure to recognise risk. To determine whether propensity for risk taking contributes to IGT performance, we correlated IGT selections with a measure of propensity for risk taking from the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), taking into account potential moderating effects of IGT learning requirements, and trait impulsivity, which is associated with learning difficulties. We found that IGT and BART performance were related, but only in the later stages of the IGT, and only in participants with low trait impulsivity. This finding suggests that IGT performance may reflect different underlying processes in individuals with low and high trait impulsivity. In individuals with low trait impulsivity, it appears that risky selections in the IGT reflect in part, propensity for risk seeking, but only after the development of explicit knowledge of IGT risks after a period of learning.
Impulsivity; risk taking; decision making; Iowa Gambling Task (IGT); Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART)
Impulsivity refers to a wide spectrum of actions characterized by quick and nonplanned reactions to external and internal stimuli, without taking into account the possible negative consequences for the individual or others, and decision-making is one of the biologically dissociated impulsive behaviors. Changes in impulsivity may be associated with norepinephrine. Various populations of drug addicts all performed impulsive decision making, which is a key risk factor in drug dependence and relapse. The present study investigated the effects of clonidine, which decreased norepinephrine release through presynaptic alpha-2 receptor activation, on the impaired decision-making performance in abstinent heroin addicts.
Decision-making performance was assessed using the original version of Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Both heroin addicts and normal controls were randomly assigned to three groups receiving clonidine, 0, 75 µg or 150 µg orally under double blind conditions. Psychiatric symptoms, including anxiety, depression and impulsivity, were rated on standardized scales. Heroin addicts reported higher scores on the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale and exhibited impaired decision-making on the IGT. A single high-dose of clonidine improved the decision-making performance in heroin addicts.
Our results suggest clonidine may have a potential therapeutic role in heroin addicts by improving the impaired impulsive decision-making. The current findings have important implications for behavioral and pharmacological interventions targeting decision-making in heroin addiction.
Problem gambling has been proposed to represent a ‘behavioural addiction’ that may provide key insights into vulnerability mechanisms underlying addiction in brains that are not affected by the damaging effects of drugs. Our aim was to investigate the neurocognitive profile of problem gambling in comparison with alcohol dependence. We reasoned that shared deficits across the two conditions may reflect underlying vulnerability mechanisms, whereas impairments specific to alcohol dependence may reflect cumulative effects of alcohol consumption.
Out-patient addiction treatment centres and university behavioural testing facilities.
A naturalistic sample of 21 male problem and pathological gamblers, 21 male alcohol-dependent out-patients and 21 healthy male control participants.
Neurocognitive battery assessing decision-making, impulsivity and working memory.
The problem gamblers and alcohol-dependent groups displayed impairments in risky decision-making and cognitive impulsivity relative to controls. Working memory deficits and slowed deliberation times were specific to the alcohol-dependent group.
Gambling and alcohol-dependent groups shared deficits in tasks linked to ventral prefrontal cortical dysfunction. Tasks loading on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were selectively impaired in the alcohol-dependent group, presumably as a consequence of long-term alcohol use.
Addiction; alcohol; decision-making; impulsivity; pathological gambling; prefrontal cortex; risk-taking; vulnerability
Background: High levels of impulsivity, characteristics of addicted patients, are known to be important predictors of relapse. However, so far, little is known about the stability or variability of two main components of impulsivity (delay discounting and decision-making). The present study examined the changes in impulsivity during the first week of an abstinence based, behavioral orientated inpatient treatment program.
Method: Thirty-seven polysubstance dependent alcoholics completed the Delay Discounting Task (DDT), and the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) using the original version with decks A′B′C′D′, and an alternative version with decks K′L′M′N′, for measuring decision-making, after 2 and 6 weeks of active treatment.
Results: It was found that performances on the IGT changed during treatment while performances on the DDT did not (test-retest period: 4 weeks).
Conclusion: The results provide preliminary evidence that improvements in decision-making might be related to treatment effects. All patients followed a highly structured cognitive-behavioral treatment program, which might have enhanced their executive functioning (coping skills training).
polysubstance dependence; impulsivity; risky decision-making; Iowa gambling task; treatment effects
Very few studies have investigated the ”real world” prospective, predictive value of behavioral instruments used in laboratory studies to test decision-making abilities or impulse control. The current study examines the degree to which two commonly used decision-making/impulse control measures prospectively predict (heavy) alcohol use in a sample of college students.
200 healthy young adults (50% female), performed the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and a StopSignal inhibition task in the second college year. At testing and at the end of the fourth college year, heavy alcohol use was assessed.
Disadvantageous performance on the IGT was associated with higher scores on a heavy drinking measure and higher quantity/frequency of alcohol use two years past neurocognitive testing in male students even after controlling for prior drinking. These results were corrected for heavy drinking and alcohol use in the period before neurocognitive testing. Interactions with gender indicated that this general pattern held for male but not female students. Level of response inhibition was not associated with either of the alcohol use measures prospectively.
These findings indicate that a neurocognitive decision-making task is predictive of maladaptive alcohol use. Advantageous decision makers appear to show adaptive real life decision-making, changing their drinking habits to the changing challenges of early adulthood (e.g., finishing college), whereas disadvantageous decision-makers do not, and continue to drink heavily. These findings extend earlier findings of neurocognitive predictors of relapse in clinical substance dependent groups, to subclinical alcohol use and abuse.
alcohol use; college students; decision-making; impulsivity; response inhibition
In gambling situations, we found a paradoxical reinforcing effect of high-risk decision-making after repeated big monetary losses. The computerized version of the Iowa Gambling Task (Bechara et al., 2000), which contained six big loss cards in deck B', was conducted on normal healthy college students. The results indicated that the total number of selections from deck A' and deck B' decreased across trials. However, there was no decrease in selections from deck B'. Detailed analysis of the card selections revealed that some people persisted in selecting from the “risky” deck B' as the number of big losses increased. This tendency was prominent in self-rated deliberative people. However, they were implicitly impulsive, as revealed by the matching familiar figure test. These results suggest that the gap between explicit deliberation and implicit impulsivity drew them into pathological gambling.
Impulsivity and decision-making are associated on a theoretical level in that impaired planning is a component of both. However, few studies have examined the relationship between measures of decision-making and impulsivity in clinical populations. The purpose of this study was to compare cocaine-dependent subjects to controls on a measure of decision-making (the Iowa Gambling Task or IGT), a questionnaire measure of impulsivity (the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale or BIS-11), and a measure of behavioral inhibition (the immediate memory task or IMT), and to examine the interrelationship among these measures. Results of the study showed that cocaine-dependent subjects made more disadvantageous choices on the IGT, had higher scores on the BIS, and more commission errors on the IMT. Cognitive model analysis showed that choice consistency factors on the IGT differed between cocaine-dependent subjects and controls. However, there was no significant correlation between IGT performance and the BIS total score or subscales or IMT commission errors. These results suggest that in cocaine dependent subjects there is little overlap between decision-making as measured by the IGT and impulsivity/behavioral inhibition as measured by the BIS and IMT.
Impulsive Behavior; Decision-making; Cocaine Dependence; Behavioral Measures; Expectancy-valence model
Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
Our objectives for this report were to identify trajectories of youth gambling behavior, and to examine their relation to executive cognitive function (ECF) and associated problem behaviors. Philadelphia school children, enrolled at ages 10–12 years (n = 387; 49% male), completed three annual assessments of risk behaviors, ECF, impulsivity, problem behaviors and demographics. Across ages 10–15 years, using methods from Nagin et al., two groups were identified: Early Gamblers (n = 111) initiated early and continued in later assessments, and Later Gamblers (n = 276) initiated at later ages and gambled less. Betting money on cards and sports were the most frequently reported gambling behaviors. Using gambling group as outcome, final backward selection logistic regression model showed Early Gamblers are more likely male (P = 0.001), report more active coping (P = 0.042), impulsive behaviors (P ≤ 0.008), and have friends who gamble (P = 0.001). Groups were similar in ECF, parental monitoring, marital status, SES, and race. Early Gamblers had higher incidence of problem behaviors and drug use (all P ≤ 0.006). Two gambling groups were identified in early adolescence with Early Gamblers showing higher levels of impulsivity and comorbid problems but similar levels of ECF compared to Late Gamblers. As more gambling groups are identified through later adolescence, ECF may emerge as a relevant precursor of problem gambling at this later time.
Youth gambling; Trajectories; Executive cognitive function; Impulsivity; Adolescence
The goal of the current investigation was to address whether affective decision making would serve as a unique neuropsychological marker to predict drinking behaviors among adolescents. We conducted a longitudinal study of 181 Chinese adolescents in Chengdu city, China. In their 10th grade (ages 15–16), these adolescents were tested for their affective decision-making ability using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and working memory capacity using the Self-Ordered Pointing Test. Self-report questionnaires were used to assess academic performance and drinking behaviors. At 1-year follow-up, questionnaires were completed to assess drinking behaviors, and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale was used to examine four dimensions of impulsivity: urgency, lack of premeditation, lack of perseverance, and sensation seeking. Results indicated that those adolescents who progressed to binge drinking or exhibited consistent binge drinking not only performed poorly on the IGT but also scored significantly higher in urgency compared to those who never or occasionally drank. Moreover, better IGT scores predicted fewer drinking problems and fewer drinks 1 year later after controlling for demographic variables, the previous drinking behaviors, working memory, and impulsivity. These findings suggest that deficits in affective decision making may be important independent determinants of compulsive drinking and potentially addictive behavior in adolescents.
Executive function; Affective control; Impulsivity; Working memory; Binge drinking; Iowa Gambling Task
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) involves probabilistic learning via monetary rewards and punishments, where advantageous task performance requires subjects to forego potential large immediate rewards for small longer-term rewards to avoid larger losses. Pathological gamblers (PG) perform worse on the IGT compared to controls, relating to their persistent preference toward high, immediate, and uncertain rewards despite experiencing larger losses. In this contribution, we review studies that investigated processes associated with poor IGT performance in PG. Findings from these studies seem to fit with recent neurocognitive models of addiction, which argue that the diminished ability of addicted individuals to ponder short-term against long-term consequences of a choice may be the product of an hyperactive automatic attentional and memory system for signaling the presence of addiction-related cues (e.g., high uncertain rewards associated with disadvantageous decks selection during the IGT) and for attributing to such cues pleasure and excitement. This incentive-salience associated with gambling-related choice in PG may be so high that it could literally “hijack” resources [“hot” executive functions (EFs)] involved in emotional self-regulation and necessary to allow the enactment of further elaborate decontextualized problem-solving abilities (“cool” EFs). A framework for future research is also proposed, which highlights the need for studies examining how these processes contribute specifically to the aberrant choice profile displayed by PG on the IGT.
gambling disorder; Iowa Gambling Task; decision-making; dual-process model; willpower
Impulsivity is a hallmark characteristic of drug addiction and a prominent feature of externalizing disorders such as psychopathy that are commonly comorbid with drug addiction. In a previous study (Vassileva et al., 2007) we have shown that psychopathic heroin addicts evidence more impulsive decision-making on the Iowa Gambling Task relative to non-psychopathic heroin addicts. The goal of the current study was to investigate whether the observed impulse-control deficits in psychopathic heroin addicts would generalize to other neurocognitive domains of impulsivity, such as delay discounting and behavioral inhibition among a group of relatively “pure” heroin addicts in Bulgaria who participated in our previous study.
We tested 92 currently abstinent male heroin addicts, classified as psychopathic or non-psychopathic based on the Hare Psychopathy Checklist – Revised (PCL-R). We administered two neurocognitive tasks of impulsivity: (1) Delayed Rewards Discounting Task, a measure of temporal discounting of rewards; and (2) Passive Avoidance Learning Task, a measure of behavioral inhibition.
Psychopathic heroin addicts were not impaired relative to non-psychopathic heroin addicts on the Delayed Rewards Discounting Task and the Passive Avoidance Learning Task, on the latter of which they showed better attentional capacity.
These results indicate that psychopathic heroin users are not uniformly impaired across neurocognitive domains of impulsivity. Combined with our previous findings, these results suggest that the presence of psychopathy may exacerbate decision-making deficits in psychopathic heroin addicts, but it may not have significant effect on other neurocognitive domains of impulsivity in this population.
impulsivity; heroin addiction; psychopathy; decision-making; delay discounting; behavioral inhibition
Pathological gambling (PG) is a form of behavioural addiction that has been associated with elevated impulsivity and also cognitive distortions in the processing of chance, probability and skill. We sought to assess the relationship between the level of cognitive distortions and state and trait measures of impulsivity in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers.
Thirty pathological gamblers attending the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the first National Health Service clinic for gambling problems in the UK, were compared with 30 healthy controls in a case-control design. Cognitive distortions were assessed using the Gambling-Related Cognitions Scale (GRCS). Trait impulsivity was assessed using the UPPS-P, which includes scales of urgency, the tendency to be impulsive in positive or negative mood states. Delay discounting rates were taken as a state measure of impulsive choice.
Pathological gamblers had elevated impulsivity on several UPPS-P subscales but effect sizes were largest (Cohen's d>1.4) for positive and negative urgency. The pathological gamblers also displayed higher levels of gambling distortions, and elevated preference for immediate rewards, compared to controls. Within the pathological gamblers, there was a strong relationship between the preference for immediate rewards and the level of cognitive distortions (R2=0.41).
Impulsive choice in the gamblers was correlated with the level of gambling distortions, and we hypothesize that an impulsive decision-making style may increase the acceptance of erroneous beliefs during gambling play.
Behavioural addiction; decision making; delay discounting; problem gambling; risk taking
The Somatic Marker Hypothesis suggests that normal subjects are "foreseeable" and ventromedial prefrontal patients are "myopic" in making decisions, as the behavior shown in the Iowa Gambling Task. The present study questions previous findings because of the existing confounding between long-term outcome (expected value, EV) and gain-loss frequency variables in the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). A newly and symmetrically designed gamble, namely the Soochow Gambling Task (SGT), with a high-contrast EV between bad (A, B) and good (C, D) decks, is conducted to clarify the issue about IGT confounding. Based on the prediction of EV (a basic assumption of IGT), participants should prefer to choose good decks C and D rather than bad decks A and B in SGT. In contrast, according to the prediction of gain-loss frequency, subjects should prefer the decks A and B because they possessed relatively the high-frequency gain.
The present experiment was performed by 48 participants (24 males and 24 females). Most subjects are college students recruited from different schools. Each subject played the computer version SGT first and completed a questionnaire for identifying their final preference. The IGT experimental procedure was mostly followed to assure a similar condition of decision uncertainty.
The SGT experiment demonstrated that the prediction of gain-loss frequency is confirmed. Most subjects preferred to choose the bad decks A and B than good decks C and D. The learning curve and questionnaire data indicate that subjects can not "hunch" the EV throughout the game. Further analysis of the effect of previous choice demonstrated that immediate gain increases the probability to stay at the same deck.
SGT provides a balanced structure to clarify the confounding inside IGT and demonstrates that gain-loss frequency rather than EV guides decision makers in these high-ambiguity gambles. Additionally, the choice behavior is mostly following the "gain-stay, lose-randomize" strategy to cope with the uncertain situation. As demonstrated in SGT, immediate gain can bring about a long-term loss under uncertainty. This empirical result may explain some shortsighted behaviors in real life.
Previous studies have shown that cocaine users have higher levels of impulsivity and impaired decision making; however few have examined these factors as predictors of treatment success. We obtained baseline neurocognitive measures from 75 cocaine-dependent individuals participating in a 12-week clinical trial targeting impulsivity with behavioral therapies and pharmacotherapy. Subjects treated with citalopram (versus placebo) had higher cocaine abstinence rates compared to placebo-treated subjects (Moeller et al., 2007). The aim of this secondary analysis study was to determine whether profiles of performance on neurocognitive measures administered at baseline discriminated among patients who achieved abstinence and those who did not. Subjects completed the Immediate and Delayed Memory Task (IMT/DMT), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11), and Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Profile analysis results showed different patterns of performance on these baseline measures as a function of outcome. Compared with non-abstinent participants, abstinent subjects had higher scores on the BIS-11 Non-Planning subscale and better performance on the IGT. Profile differences for the two outcome groups did not vary as a function of treatment condition. Results suggest that cocaine dependent patients entering treatment with higher impulsivity and less impaired decision-making abilities may respond favorably to targeted behavioral interventions. Neurocognitive profiles may be useful in understanding population heterogeneity and predicting differential outcomes in subgroups of cocaine abusers.
impulsivity; decision making; cocaine; cognitive behavioral therapy; contingency management; citalopram; profile analysis
“Near-miss” events, where unsuccessful outcomes are proximal to the jackpot, increase gambling propensity and may be associated with the addictiveness of gambling, but little is known about the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie their potency. Using a simplified slot machine task, we measured behavioral and neural responses to gambling outcomes. Compared to “full-misses,” near-misses were experienced as less pleasant, but increased desire to play. This effect was restricted to trials where the subject had personal control over arranging their gamble. Near-miss outcomes recruited striatal and insula circuitry that also responded to monetary wins; in addition, near-miss-related activity in the rostral anterior cingulate cortex varied as a function of personal control. Insula activity to near-misses correlated with self-report ratings as well as a questionnaire measure of gambling propensity. These data indicate that near-misses invigorate gambling through the anomalous recruitment of reward circuitry, despite the objective lack of monetary reinforcement on these trials.
The authors examined the impact of HIV, cognitive dysfunction, and depression on decision-making. HIV+ (N=100) and HIV− (N=26) participants were administered a comprehensive neuropsychological battery, a modified version of the Iowa Gambling Task, and a measure of depressive symptoms. HIV+ participants demonstrated more difficulties in learning the gambling task than did HIV− participants. Executive functioning and depression emerged as strong predictors of gambling task performance. Depression partially mediated the relationship between executive functioning and gambling performance. Our findings suggest that HIV infection, executive dysfunction, and depression place individuals at risk for poor decision-making.
Gambling disorder sufferers prefer immediately larger rewards despite long term losses on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), and these impairments are associated with dopamine dysfunctions. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked with temporal and structural dysfunctions in substance use disorder, which has supported the idea of impaired decision-making and dopamine dysfunctions in gambling disorder. However, evidence from substance use disorders cannot be directly transferred to gambling disorder. This article focuses on three hypotheses of dopamine dysfunctions in gambling disorder, which appear to be “fallacies,” i.e., have not been supported in a series of positron emission tomography (PET) studies. The first “fallacy” suggests that gambling disorder sufferers have lower dopamine receptor availability, as seen in substance use disorders. However, no evidence supported this hypothesis. The second “fallacy” suggests that maladaptive decision-making in gambling disorder is associated with higher dopamine release during gambling. No evidence supported the hypothesis, and the literature on substance use disorders offers limited support for this hypothesis. The third “fallacy” suggests that maladaptive decision-making in gambling disorder is associated with higher dopamine release during winning. The evidence did not support this hypothesis either. Instead, dopaminergic coding of reward prediction and uncertainty might better account for dopamine dysfunctions in gambling disorder. Studies of reward prediction and reward uncertainty show a sustained dopamine response toward stimuli with maximum uncertainty, which may explain the continued dopamine release and gambling despite losses in gambling disorder. The findings from the studies presented here are consistent with the notion of dopaminergic dysfunctions of reward prediction and reward uncertainty signals in gambling disorder.
gambling disorder; Iowa Gambling Task (IGT); dopamine; addiction; positron-emission tomography
Two studies were conducted to test and explain the relation of mindfulness to the severity of gambling outcomes among frequent gamblers. In both studies, dispositional mindfulness related to less severe gambling outcomes as measured by a DSM-IV-based screen for pathological gambling, even after controlling for gambling frequency and dispositional self-control. Study 2 extended this finding in showing that the association between mindfulness and lower pathological gambling was partially mediated by better performance on two risk-taking tasks that capture overconfidence, risky bet acceptance, and myopic focus on reward. These studies suggest a role for mindfulness in lessening the severity of gambling problems and making adaptive decisions, especially in risk-relevant contexts.
MINDFULNESS; OVERCONFIDENCE; RISK-TAKING; GAMBLING; DECISION-MAKING
The present study represents an initial attempt to assess the role of apathy in motivated decision making on the Iowa Gambling Task. Clinical descriptions of patients with apathy highlight deficits in the cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects of goal directed activity, yet standard neurocognitive tests of these measures fail to demonstrate reliable sensitivity to the disorder. Available research suggests the Iowa Gambling Task is a robust test of complex emotional socio-executive processes involved in motivational decision making, which can analogue real-world goal-directed behaviour.
We ask whether performance on the Iowa Gambling Task can distinguish brain damaged patients with apathy symptoms from 1) brain damaged patients without apathy and 2) neurologically intact controls. Overall, 22 healthy adults and 29 brain damaged patients took part in this study.
Brain damaged patients with apathy were distinctively impaired on the Iowa Gambling Task compared to both non-apathetic brain damaged patients and neurologically intact healthy controls. On the other hand, standard measures for the cognitive control of behaviour failed to show this sensitivity.
Our results demonstrated that the Iowa Gambling Task is sensitive to the presence of apathy symptoms. We discuss these findings in terms of neurocognition deficits in apathy and the related implications for rehabilitation and clinical intervention.
Apathy; Motivational decision making; Iowa gambling task
The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) is widely used in investigations of decision making. A growing number of studies have linked performance on this task to personality differences, with the aim of explaining the large degree of variability in healthy individuals' performance of the task. However, this line of research has yielded inconsistent results. In the present study, we tested whether increasing the conflict between short-term and long-term gains in the IGT can clarify personality-related modulations of decision making. We assessed performance on the original IGT as a function of the personality traits typically involved in risky decision making (i.e., impulsivity, sensation seeking, sensitivity to reward and punishment). The impact of these same personality traits was also evaluated on a modified version of the task in which the difference in immediate reward magnitude between disadvantageous and advantageous decks was increased, while keeping the net gain fixed. The results showed that only in this latter IGT variant were highly impulsive individuals and high sensation seekers lured into making disadvantageous choices. The opposite seems to be the case for participants who were highly sensitive to punishment, although further data are needed to corroborate this finding. The present preliminary results suggest that the IGT variant used in this study could be more effective than the original task at identifying personality effects in decision making. Implications for dispositional and situational effects on decision making are discussed.