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Emotion. 2013 Feb;13(1):19-24. doi: 10.1037/a0029970. Epub 2012 Oct 8.

Myopia for the future or hypersensitivity to reward? Age-related changes in decision making on the Iowa Gambling Task.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology Division of Behavioral Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience University of Iowa College of Medicine.
2
Department of Behavioral Sciences Rush University Medical Center.
3
Department of Psychology University of Southern California.
4
Department of Psychology University of Iowa.
#
Contributed equally

Abstract

It has been shown that older adults perform less well than younger adults on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), a real-world type decision-making task that factors together reward, punishment, and uncertainty. To explore the reasons behind this age-related decrement, we administered to an adult life span sample of 265 healthy participants (Mdn age = 62.00 +/- 16.17 years; range [23-88]) 2 versions of the IGT, which have different contingencies for successful performance: A'B'C'D' requires choosing lower immediate reward (paired with lower delayed punishment); E'F'G'H' requires choosing higher immediate punishment (paired with higher delayed reward). There was a significant negative correlation between age and performance on the A'B'C'D' version of the IGT (r = -.16, p = .01), while there was essentially no correlation between age and performance on the E'F'G'H' version (r = -.07, p = .24). In addition, the rate of impaired performance in older participants was significantly higher for the A'B'C'D' version (23%) compared with the E'F'G'H' version (13%). A parsimonious account of these findings is an age-related increase in hypersensitivity to reward, whereby the decisions of older adults are disproportionately influenced by prospects of receiving reward, irrespective of the presence or degree of punishment.

PMID:
23046455
PMCID:
PMC3965348
DOI:
10.1037/a0029970
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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