Predicting risk decisions in a modified Balloon Analogue Risk Task: Conventional and single-trial ERP analyses

Published in: Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, Volume 18, Issue 1, 99-116

“Event-related potential (ERP) has the potential to reveal the temporal neurophysiological dynamics of risk decision-making, but this potential has not been fully explored in previous studies. When predicting risk decision with ERPs, most studies focus on between-trial analysis that reflects feedback learning, while within-trial analysis that could directly link option assessment with behavioral output has been largely ignored. Suitable task design is crucial for applying within-trial prediction. In this study, we used a modified version of the classic Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). In each trial of the task, participants made multiple rounds of decisions between a risky option (pump up the balloon) and a safe option (cash out). Behavioral results show that as the level of economic risk increased, participants were less willing to make a risky decision and also needed a longer response time to do so. In general, the ERP results showed distinct characteristics compared with previous findings based on between-trial prediction, particularly about the role of the P1 component. Specifically, both the P1 (amplitude and latency) and P3 (amplitude) components evoked by current outcomes predicted subsequent decisions. We suggest that these findings indicate the importance of selective attention (indexed by the P1) and motivational functions (indexed by the P3), which may help clarify the cognitive mechanism of risk decision-making. The theoretical significance of these findings is discussed.”

Written by: Ruolei Gu, Dandan Zhang, Yi Luo, Hongyan Wang, Lucas S. Broster
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