Working memory and affective decision-making in addiction: A neurocognitive comparison between heroin addicts, pathological gamblers and healthy controls

Department of Psychology, School of Medical Humanitarians, Guiyang Medical University, Guiyang, China
Drug and alcohol dependence (Impact Factor: 3.42). 10/2013; 134(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.09.027
Source: PubMed


Cognitive deficits are observed both in heroin dependence and in pathological gambling (PG) on various tasks. PG, as a non-substance addiction, is free of toxic consequences of drug use. Therefore a direct neurocognitive comparison of heroin addicts and pathological gamblers helps dissociate the consequences of chronic heroin use on cognitive function from the cognitive vulnerabilities that predispose addiction.
A case-control design was used, comparing 58 abstinent heroin addicts, 58 pathological gamblers, and 60 healthy controls on working memory and affective decision-making functions. Working memory was assessed using the Self-ordered Pointing Test (SOPT). Affective decision-making was measured by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT).
Heroin addicts performed significantly worse both on the IGT and on the SOPT, compared to healthy controls. Pathological gamblers performed worse on the IGT than healthy controls, but did not differ from controls on the SOPT. Years of heroin use were negatively correlated with working memory and affective decision-making performance in heroin addicts, while severity of gambling was not significantly correlated with any task performance in pathological gamblers.
Our findings indicate that deficits in affective decision-making shared by heroin dependence and PG putatively represent vulnerabilities to addiction and that working memory deficits detected only in heroin addicts may be identified as heroin-specific harmful effects.

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Available from: Nan Sui, Apr 25, 2014
    • "Neurocognitive measures allow for evaluation of possible dysfunction in a variety of cognitive facets and offer insight in to potential underlying neural regions of importance in behavioral addictions (Potenza, 2014). The evaluation of patterns of dysfunction allows for comparisons to healthy comparison subjects, across substance-use disorders, and various other populations of interest which allow for a more in-depth understanding of similarities and differences between these groups (Choi et al., 2014; Leeman and Potenza, 2012; Noël et al., 2013; Yan et al., 2014). Importantly, evaluation of neurocognitive function in PG through neurocognitive tasks has provided insight into the maintenance of this disorder (for review, see Brevers et al., 2013; van Holst et al., 2010). "
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