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Are correlations among behavioral decision making tasks moderated by simulated cognitive impairment?

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journal contribution
posted on 23.06.2022, 15:40 authored by Melissa T. Buelow, Wesley R. Barnhart, Thomas Crook, Julie A. Suhr

Behavioral decision making tasks are common in research settings, with only the Iowa Gambling Task available for clinical assessments. However, correlations among these tasks are low, indicating each may assess a distinct component of decision making. In addition, it is unclear whether these tasks are sensitive to invalid performance or even simulated impairment. The present study examined relationships among decision making tasks and whether simulated impairment moderates the relationships among them. Across two studies (Study 1: n = 166, Study 2: n = 130), undergraduate student participants were asked to try their best or to simulate a specific diagnosis (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; Study 1), decision making impairment (Study 2), or general cognitive impairment (Study 2). They then completed a battery of tests including embedded and standalone performance validity tests (PVTs) and three behavioral decision making tasks. Across studies, participants simulating impairment were not distinguishable from controls on any of the behavioral tasks. Few significant correlations emerged among tasks across studies and the pattern of relationships between tasks did not differ on the basis of simulator or PVT failure status. Collectively, our findings suggest that these tasks may not be vulnerable to simulated cognitive impairment, and that the tasks measure largely non-overlapping aspects of decision making.