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The Role of Executive Function in Adolescent Adaptive Risk-Taking on the Balloon Analogue Risk Task

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journal contribution
posted on 30.08.2018 by Melanie A. Blair, Ashley Moyett, Angelica A. Bato, Pamela DeRosse, Katherine H. Karlsgodt

The present study examined the role of executive control functions (ECF) in adaptive risk-taking during adolescence. Healthy individuals aged 8–25 were administered ECF measures and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART), a computerized measure of risk-taking propensity.

Findings demonstrated that adolescents who executed a more consistent response strategy evidenced better performance on the BART. Greater working memory (WM) predicted lower response variability and WM capacity mediated the relationship between age and variability. Results suggest that intra-individual response variability may index adaptive risk-taking and that the development of ECF, specifically WM, may play an integral role in adaptive decision making during adolescence and young adulthood.


This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health [R01MH101506]; Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics [NIH Roadmap for Medical Research grants UL1-DE0195].