Decision-making on an explicit risk-taking task in preadolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Summary.

Inappropriate risk-taking and disadvantageous decision-making have been described as major behavioural characteristics of patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However these behaviours are difficult to measure in laboratory contexts and recent studies have yielded inconsistent results which might be related to task characteristics. The present study adopted the Game of Dice Task, a test procedure in which risks are made explicit and the load on working memory is minimal. As a result, preadolescents with ADHD (N = 23) made significantly more risky choices and suffered major losses of money compared to normal controls (N = 24) but only when they played the game a second time. Differences in risk-taking correlated significantly with hyperactivity as rated by parents and with inhibitory control, but not with working memory performance. The results are discussed in the context of current theories of ADHD.

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Correspondence to R. Drechsler.

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Correspondence: Renate Drechsler, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Zurich, Neumuensterallee 9, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland

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Drechsler, R., Rizzo, P. & Steinhausen, H. Decision-making on an explicit risk-taking task in preadolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Neural Transm 115, 201–209 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-007-0814-5

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  • Keywords: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); risk-taking; decision-making; impulsivity; reward; gambling-task; probabilistic discounting