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Brain Cogn. 2008 Feb;66(1):83-90. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Working memory involved in predicting future outcomes based on past experiences.

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Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706-1696, USA.


Deficits in working memory have been shown to contribute to poor performance on the Iowa Gambling Task [IGT: Bechara, A., & Martin, E.M. (2004). Impaired decision making related to working memory deficits in individuals with substance addictions. Neuropsychology, 18, 152-162]. Similarly, a secondary memory load task has been shown to impair task performance [Hinson, J., Jameson, T. & Whitney, P. (2002). Somatic markers, working memory, and decision making. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioural Neuroscience, 2, 341-353]. In the present study, we investigate whether the latter findings were due to increased random responding [Franco-Watkins, A. M., Pashler, H., & Rickard, T. C. (2006). Does working memory load lead to greater impulsivity? Commentary on Hinson, Jameson, and Whitney's (2003). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 32, 443-447]. Participants were tested under Low Working Memory (LWM; n=18) or High Working Memory (HWM; n=17) conditions while performing the Reversed IGT in which punishment was immediate and reward delayed [Bechara, A., Dolan, S., & Hindes, A. (2002). Decision making and addiction (part II): Myopia for the future or hypersensitivity to reward? Neuropsychologia, 40, 1690-1705]. In support of a role for working memory in emotional decision making, compared to the LWM condition, participants in the HWM condition made significantly greater number of disadvantageous selections than that predicted by chance. Performance by the HWM group could not be fully explained by random responding.

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