Neuronal correlates of risk-seeking attitudes to anticipated losses in binge drinkers

Worbe, Yulia, Irvine, Michael, Lange, Iris, Kundu, Prantik, Howell, Nicholas A, Harrison, Neil A, Bullmore, Edward T, Robbins, Trevor W and Voon, Valerie (2014) Neuronal correlates of risk-seeking attitudes to anticipated losses in binge drinkers. Biological Psychiatry, 76 (9). pp. 717-724. ISSN 0006-3223

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Abnormal decision making under risk is associated with a number of psychiatric disorders. Here, we focus on binge drinkers (BD), characterized by repeated episodes of heavy alcohol intoxication. Previous studies suggest a decreased sensitivity to aversive conditioning in BD. Here, we asked whether BD might be characterized by enhanced risk seeking related to decreased sensitivity to the anticipation of negative outcomes.

Using an anticipatory risk-taking task (40 BD and 70 healthy volunteers) and an adapted version of this task for functional magnetic resonance imaging (21 BD and 21 healthy volunteers), we assessed sensitivity to reward and loss across risk probabilities.

In the behavioral task, BD showed a higher number of risky choices in high-risk losses. In the neuroimaging task, the high-risk attitude in the loss condition was associated with greater activity in dorsolateral prefrontal, lateral orbitofrontal, and superior parietal cortices in BD. Explicit exposure of BD to the probability and magnitude of loss, via introduction of feedback, resulted in a subsequent decrease in risky choices. This change in risk attitude in BD was associated with greater activity in inferior frontal gyrus, which also correlated with the percentage of decrease in risky choices after feedback presentation, suggesting a possible role for cognitive control toward risk-seeking attitudes.

Our findings suggest that a decrease in sensitivity to the anticipation of high-risk negative outcomes might underlie BD behavior. Presentation of explicit feedback of probability and loss in BD can potentially modify risk-taking attitudes, which have important public health implications and suggest possible therapeutic targets.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Binge drinking; feedback sensitivity; functional MRI; loss anticipation; risk-seeking behavior
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Neuroscience
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF0608 Will. Volition. Choice. Control
R Medicine
Depositing User: louisa Brooks
Date Deposited: 13 May 2014 14:04
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2017 11:42
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