Decision-Making Under Risk, but Not Under Ambiguity, Predicts Pathological Gambling in Discrete Types of Abstinent Substance Users

Frontiers in Psychiatry
Michael J Wilson, Jasmin Vassileva


This study explored how different forms of reward-based decision-making are associated with pathological gambling (PG) among abstinent individuals with prior dependence on different classes of drugs. Participants had lifetime histories of either "pure" heroin dependence (n = 64), "pure" amphetamine dependence (n = 51), or polysubstance dependence (n = 89), or had no history of substance dependence (n = 133). Decision-making was assessed via two neurocognitive tasks: (1) the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a measure of decision-making under ambiguity (i.e., uncertain risk contingencies); and (2) the Cambridge Gambling task (CGT), a measure of decision-making under risk (i.e., explicit risk contingencies). The main effects of neurocognitive performance and drug class on PG (defined as ≥3 DSM-IV PG symptoms) as well as their interactional effects were assessed via multiple linear regression. Two CGT indices of decision-making under risk demonstrated positive main effects on PG. Interaction effects indicated that the effects of decision-making under risk on PG were largely consistent across participant groups. Notably, a linear relationship between greater CGT Risk-Taking and PG symptoms was not observed among amphetamine users, whereas ...Continue Reading


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