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Sensitivity to gains during risky decision-making differentiates chronic cocaine users from stimulant-naïve controls


Kluwe-Schiavon, B; Kexel, A; Manenti, G; Cole, D M; Baumgartner, M R; Grassi-Oliveira, R; Tobler, Philippe N; Quednow, Boris B (2020). Sensitivity to gains during risky decision-making differentiates chronic cocaine users from stimulant-naïve controls. Behavioural Brain Research, 379:112386.

Abstract

Background
Chronic cocaine use has been consistently associated with decision-making impairments that contribute to the development and maintenance of drug-taking. However, the underlying cognitive processes of risk-seeking behaviours observed in chronic cocaine users (CU) have so far remained unclear. Here we therefore tested whether CU differ from stimulant-naïve controls in their sensitivity to gain, loss, and probability of loss information when making decisions under risk.

Method
A sample of 96 participants (56 CU and 40 controls) performed the no-feedback version of the Columbia Card Task, designed to assess risk-taking in relation to gain, loss, and probability of loss information. Additionally, cognitive performance and impulsivity were determined. Current and recent substance use was objectively assessed by toxicological urine and hair analysis.

Results
Compared to controls, CU showed increased risk-seeking in unfavourable decision scenarios in which the loss probability was high and the returns were low, and a tendency for increased risk aversion in more favourable decision scenarios. In comparison to controls, CU were less sensitive to gain, but similarly sensitive to loss and probability of loss information. Further analysis revealed that individual differences in sensitivity to loss and probability of loss information were related to cognitive performance and impulsivity.

Conclusion
Reduced sensitivity to gains in people with CU may contribute to their propensity for making risky decisions. While these alterations in gain sensitivity might directly relate to cocaine use per se, the individual psychopathological profile of CU might moderate sensitivity to loss information.

Abstract

Background
Chronic cocaine use has been consistently associated with decision-making impairments that contribute to the development and maintenance of drug-taking. However, the underlying cognitive processes of risk-seeking behaviours observed in chronic cocaine users (CU) have so far remained unclear. Here we therefore tested whether CU differ from stimulant-naïve controls in their sensitivity to gain, loss, and probability of loss information when making decisions under risk.

Method
A sample of 96 participants (56 CU and 40 controls) performed the no-feedback version of the Columbia Card Task, designed to assess risk-taking in relation to gain, loss, and probability of loss information. Additionally, cognitive performance and impulsivity were determined. Current and recent substance use was objectively assessed by toxicological urine and hair analysis.

Results
Compared to controls, CU showed increased risk-seeking in unfavourable decision scenarios in which the loss probability was high and the returns were low, and a tendency for increased risk aversion in more favourable decision scenarios. In comparison to controls, CU were less sensitive to gain, but similarly sensitive to loss and probability of loss information. Further analysis revealed that individual differences in sensitivity to loss and probability of loss information were related to cognitive performance and impulsivity.

Conclusion
Reduced sensitivity to gains in people with CU may contribute to their propensity for making risky decisions. While these alterations in gain sensitivity might directly relate to cocaine use per se, the individual psychopathological profile of CU might moderate sensitivity to loss information.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Legal Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Behavioral Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Behavioral neuroscience, risk-taking, substance use disorders, stimulants, impulsivity, verbal IQ, executive functions, attention-deficit/hyperactivity
Language:English
Date:3 February 2020
Deposited On:07 Jan 2020 13:23
Last Modified:06 May 2020 22:06
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0166-4328
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2019.112386
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID100014_165884
  • : Project TitleThe role of dopamine in value-based decision making
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID105319_162639
  • : Project TitleThe effect of psychosocial and craving-induced stress on social cognition and decision-making in cocaine users: a longitudinal approach

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