The impact of mild cognitive impairment on decision-making under explicit risk conditions: Evidence from the Personality and Total Health (PATH) Through Life longitudinal study

J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2023 Jul;29(6):594-604. doi: 10.1017/S1355617722000765. Epub 2022 Nov 3.


Objective: Previous research has indicated that cognition and executive function are associated with decision-making, however the impact of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) on decision-making under explicit risk conditions is unclear. This cross-sectional study examined the impact of MCI, and MCI subtypes, on decision-making on the Game of Dice Task (GDT), among a cohort of older adults.

Method: Data from 245 older adult participants (aged 72-78 years) from the fourth assessment of the Personality and Total Health Through Life study were analyzed. A diagnostic algorithm identified 103 participants with MCI, with subtypes of single-domain amnestic MCI (aMCI-single; n = 38), multi-domain amnestic MCI (aMCI-multi; n = 31), and non-amnestic MCI (n = 33), who were compared with an age-, sex-, education-, and income-matched sample of 142 cognitively unimpaired older adults. Decision-making scores on the GDT (net score, single number choices, and strategy changes) were compared between groups using nonparametric tests.

Results: Participants with MCI showed impaired performance on the GDT, with higher frequencies of single number choices and strategy changes. Analyses comparing MCI subtypes indicated that the aMCI-multi subtype showed increased frequency of single number choices compared to cognitively unimpaired participants. Across the sample of participants, decision-making scores were associated with measures of executive function (cognitive flexibility and set shifting).

Conclusion: MCI is associated with impaired decision-making performance under explicit risk conditions. Participants with impairments in multiple domains of cognition showed the clearest impairments. The GDT may have utility in discriminating between MCI subtypes.

Keywords: Game of Dice Task; cognitive dysfunction; decision-making; executive function; mild cognitive impairment; older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Executive Function
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Personality