Dissociation of decision making under ambiguity and decision making under risk: a neurocognitive endophenotype candidate for obsessive-compulsive disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2015 Mar 3;57:60-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.09.005. Epub 2014 Oct 12.


Evidence in the literature suggests that executive dysfunction is regarded as an endophenotype candidate for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Decision making is an important domain of executive function. However, few studies that have investigated whether decision making is a potential endophenotype for OCD have produced inconsistent results. Differences in the findings across these studies may be attributed to several factors: different study materials, comorbidity, medication, etc. There are at least two types of decision making that differ mainly in the degree of uncertainty and how much useful information about consequences and their probabilities are provided to the decision maker: decision making under ambiguity and decision making under risk. The aim of the present study was to simultaneously examine decision making under ambiguity as assessed by the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) and decision making under risk as measured by the Game of Dice Task (GDT) in OCD patients and their unaffected first-degree relative (UFDR) for the first time. The study analyzed 55 medication-naïve, non-depressed OCD patient probands, 55 UFDRs of the OCD patients and 55 healthy matched comparison subjects (CS) without a family history of OCD with the IGT, the GDT and a neuropsychological test battery. While the OCD patients and the UFDRs performed worse than the CS on the IGT, they were unimpaired on the GDT. Our study supports the claim that decision making under ambiguity differs from decision making under risk and suggests that dissociation of decision making under ambiguity and decision making under risk may qualify to be a neurocognitive endophenotypes for OCD.

Keywords: Decision making; Game of Dice Task; Iowa Gambling Task; Neurocognitive endophenotype; Obsessive–compulsive disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Endophenotypes*
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder / psychology*
  • Risk-Taking
  • Uncertainty
  • Young Adult