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Myopia for the future? Decision-making in alcohol and amphetamine dependence

Vo, LechiORCID: 0000-0002-2714-5387 (2010) Myopia for the future? Decision-making in alcohol and amphetamine dependence. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Decision-making has been found to be a predictor for substance-dependence treatment outcomes (Bowden-Jones et al., 2005). Further understanding on decision-making and underlying factors may help tailoring treatment intervention for substance dependence. This study compared decision-making performance of a substance-dependent group after 56 days of abstinence with a control group using the Iowa Gambling Task (Bechara, Tranel & Damasio, 1997). Substance-dependent group were forty abstinent alcohol and amphetamine dependent individuals attending a residential substance dependent treatment program facility. Control group were forty four non-drug using volunteers. The Iowa Gambling Task is a decision-making test that emulates real-life scenarios involving risk, uncertainty, rewards and punishments, and is often used to examine decision-making performance of substance-dependent and other clinical populations. Consistent with past research, this study found that substance-dependent group performed significantly poorer relative to control group. This study also found the difference in the proportion of substance-dependent group relative to the control group who performed within the range of patients with ventromedial prefrontal cortices lesions statistically significant.

Together these findings indicated that a subgroup of abstinent substance-dependent individuals attending substance dependence treatment programs may still experience difficulties in decision-making domain after a protracted period of abstinence. The findings suggest the tendency for myopia for the future or being oversensitive to reward and insensitive to punishment associated with substance dependence may underlie the decision-making deficits in some substance-dependent individuals. Intensive cognitive and behavioural training were recommended to improve substance dependence treatment efficacy.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Supervisor(s): Collins, Marjorie
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