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Cue-induced effects on decision-making distinguish subjects with gambling disorder from healthy controls

By Alexander Genauck, Milan Andrejevic, Katharina Brehm, Caroline Matthis, Andreas Heinz, André Weinreich, Norbert Kathmann, Nina Romanczuk-Seiferth

Posted 01 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/564781 (published DOI: 10.1111/adb.12841)

While an increased impact of cues on decision-making has been associated with substance dependence, it is yet unclear whether this is also a phenotype of non-substance related addictive disorders, such as gambling disorder (GD). To better understand the basic mechanisms of impaired decision-making in addiction, we investigated whether cue-induced changes in decision-making could distinguish GD from healthy control (HC) subjects. We expected that cue-induced changes in gamble acceptance and specifically in loss aversion would distinguish GD from HC subjects. 30 GD subjects and 30 matched HC subjects completed a mixed gambles task where gambling and other emotional cues were shown in the background. We used machine learning to carve out the importance of cue-dependency of decision-making and of loss aversion for distinguishing GD from HC subjects. Cross-validated classification yielded an area under the receiver operating curve (AUC-ROC) of 68.9% (p=0.002). Applying the classifier to an independent sample yielded an AUC-ROC of 65.0% (p=0.047). As expected, the classifier used cue-induced changes in gamble acceptance to distinguish GD from HC. Especially increased gambling during the presentation of gambling cues characterized GD subjects. However, cue-induced changes in loss aversion were irrelevant for distinguishing GD from HC subjects. To our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the classificatory power of addiction-relevant behavioral task parameters when distinguishing GD from HC subjects. The results indicate that cue-induced changes in decision-making are a characteristic feature of addictive disorders, independent of a substance of abuse. Remarks To ensure a more convenient reviewing process, we positioned figures and tables at their destined position.

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