Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Risk taking during decision-making in normal volunteers changes with age

  • JULIA DEAKIN (a1), MICHAEL AITKEN (a2), TREVOR ROBBINS (a2) and BARBARA J. SAHAKIAN (a1)

Abstract

Risk taking in a large cohort of adults (N = 177; ages 17–73) decreased with age, demonstrated by performance on a computer based gambling task, which has previously been shown to be sensitive to certain pharmacological manipulations including tryptophan depletion, lesions of the orbitofrontal cortex and neuropsychiatric disorders such as mania. Aging was also associated with longer deliberation times, poorer decision making, reduced risk taking, but no significant change in delay aversion. Subjects with a higher (NART-estimated) IQ were faster to make decisions and showed a greater modulation of risk-taking. Both sexes showed similar patterns of decision making, although male participants exhibited a greater modulation of risk-taking in response to the probability of winning. The Decision-Gamble task provides a variety of behavioral measures, corresponding to different aspects of impulsivity. Factor analysis of these measures suggested that two independent traits underlies performance on the task in normal individuals: one associated with risk tolerance, and a second associated with delay aversion. Age was related to decreases in the risk tolerance factor, but unrelated to the delay aversion; neither factor was significantly related to verbal IQ. This study thus provides support for the concept that impulsivity can be fractionated into 2 or more components. (JINS, 2004, 10, 590–598.)

Copyright

Corresponding author

Reprint requests to: Prof. Barbara J. Sahakian, University of Cambridge, School of Clinical Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Box 189, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, CB2 2QQ, UK. E-mail: jenny.hall@addenbrookes.nhs.uk

References

Hide All

REFERENCES

Barratt, E.S. (1985). Impulsiveness defined within a systems model of personality. In E.P. Speilberger & J.N. Butcher (Eds.), Advances in personality assessment (pp. 113132). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Barrett, D.E. (1977). Reflection-impulsivity as a predictor of children's academic achievement. Child Development, 48, 14431447.
Bechara, A., Damasio, H., Damasio, A.R., & Lee, G.P. (1999). Different contributions of the human amygdala and ventromedial prefrontal cortex to decision-making. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 54735481.
Convit, A., Wolf, O.T., de Leon, M.J., Patalinjug, M., Kandil, E., Caraos, C., Scherer, A., Saint Louis, L.A., & Cancro, R. (2001). Volumetric analysis of the pre-frontal regions: Findings in aging and schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 107, 6173.
Daruna, J.H. & Barnes, P.A. (1993). A neurodevelopmental view of impulsivity. In W.G. McCowan, J. Johnson, & M.B. Shure (Eds.), The impulsive client: Theory research and treatment (pp. 4045). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Denberg, N., Bechara, A., Tranel, A., Hindes, A., & Damasio, A. (1999). Neuropsychological evidence for why the ability to decide advantageously decreases with age. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, 21, 24.
Denney, N.W. & List, J.A. (1979). Adult age differences in performance on the Matching Familiar Figures Test. Human Development, 22, 137144.
Dror, I.E., Katona, M., & Mungur K. (1998). Age differences in decision making: To take a risk or not? Gerontology, 44, 6771
Evenden, J.L. (1999). Varieties of impulsivity. Psychopharmacology, 146, 348361.
Eysenck, S. & Eysenck, H.J. (1978). Impulsiveness and venturesomeness: Their position in a dimensional system of personality description. Psychological Reports, 43, 12471255.
Green, L., Fry, A.F., & Myerson, J. (1994). Discounting of delayed rewards: A lifespan comparison. Psychological Science, 5, 3336.
Huq, S.F., Garety, P.A., & Hemsley, D.R. (1988). Probabilistic judgements in deluded and non-deluded subjects. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A, 40, 801812.
Jamieson, B.D. (1969). The influences of birth order, family size, and sex differences on risk-taking behaviour. British Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 8, 18.
Kagan, J., Rosman, B.L., Day, D., Albert, J., & Philips, W. (1964). Information processing in the child: Significance of analytic and refective attitudes. Psychological Monographs, 78.
Kopfstein, D. (1973). Risk-taking behavior and cognitive style. Child Development, 44, 190192.
Mackintosh, N.J. (1998). IQ and human intelligence. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
MacPherson, S.E., Phillips, L.H., & Della Sala, S. (2002) Age, executive function, and social decision making: A dorsolateral prefrontal theory of cognitive aging. Psychology of Aging 17, 598609
Malle, B.F. & Neubauer, A.C. (1991). Impulsivity, reflection, and questionnaire response latencies: No evidence for a broad impulsivity trait. Personality and Individual Differences, 12, 865871.
Mavaddat, N., Kirkpatrick, P.J., Rogers, R.D., & Sahakian, B.J. (2000). Deficits in decision-making in patients with aneurysms of the anterior communicating artery. Brain, 123, 21092117.
Messer, S.B. (1976). Reflection-impulsivity: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 83, 10261052.
Monterosso, J., Ehrman, R., Napier, K.L., O'Brien, C.P., & Childress, A.R. (2001). Three decision-making tasks in cocaine-dependent patients: Do they measure the same construct? Addiction, 96, 18251837.
Murphy, F.C., Rubinsztein, J.S., Michael, A., Rogers, R.D., Robbins, T.W., Paykel, E.S., & Sahakian, B.J. (2001). Decision-making cognition in mania and depression. Psychological Medicine, 31, 679693.
Murphy, F.C., Sahakian, B.J., Rubinsztein, J.S., Michael, A., Rogers, R.D., Robbins, T.W., & Paykel, E.S. (1999). Emotional bias and inhibitory control processes in mania and depression. Psychological Medicine, 29, 13071321.
Okun, M. (1976). Adult age and cautiousness in decision: A review of the literature. Human Development, 19, 220233.
Rahman, S., Sahakian, B.J., Hodges, J.R., Rogers, R.D., & Robbins, T.W. (1999). Specific cognitive deficits in mild frontal variant frontotemporal dementia. Brain, 122, 14691493.
Robbins, T.W., James, M., Owen, A.M., Sahakian, B.J., McInnes, L., & Rabbitt, P. (1994). Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB): A factor analytic study of a large sample of normal elderly volunteers. Dementia, 5, 266281.
Robbins, T.W., James, M., Owen, A.M., Sahakian, B.J., McInnes, L., & Rabbitt, P. (1997). A neural systems approach to the cognitive psychology of ageing using the CANTAB battery. In P. Rabbitt (Ed.), Methodology of frontal and executive function (Vol. 10, pp. 215238): Hove, UK: Psychology Press.
Rogers, R.D., Everitt, B.J., Baldacchino, A., Blackshaw, A.J., Swainson, R., Wynne, K., Baker, N.B., Hunter, J., Carthy, T., Booker, E., London, M., Deakin, J.F., Sahakian, B.J., & Robbins, T.W. (1999a). Dissociable deficits in the decision-making cognition of chronic amphetamine abusers, opiate abusers, patients with focal damage to prefrontal cortex, and tryptophan-depleted normal volunteers: Evidence for monoaminergic mechanisms. Neuropsychopharmacology, 20, 322339.
Rogers, R.D., Owen, A.M., Middleton, H.C., Williams, E.J., Pickard, J.D., Sahakian, B.J., & Robbins, T.W. (1999b). Choosing between small, likely rewards and large, unlikely rewards activates inferior and orbital prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience, 19, 90299038.
Rubinsztein, J., Michael, A., Paykel, E., & Sahakian, B. (2000). Cognitive impairment in remission in bipolar affective disorder. Psychological Medicine, 30, 10251036.
Salthouse, T.A. (2000). Aging and measures of processing speed. Biological Psychology, 54, 3554.
Sanfrey, A. & Hastie, R. (2000). Judgement and decision making across the adult life-span: A tutorial review of psychological research. In D. Park & N. Schwarz (Eds.), Cognitive Aging: A Primer (pp. 253273). Philadelphia, PA: Psychology Press.
Slovic, P. (1966). Risk-taking in children: Age and sex differences. Child Development, 37, 169176.

Keywords

Risk taking during decision-making in normal volunteers changes with age

  • JULIA DEAKIN (a1), MICHAEL AITKEN (a2), TREVOR ROBBINS (a2) and BARBARA J. SAHAKIAN (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed