Affective decision-making on the Iowa Gambling Task in children and adolescents with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Abstract

Individuals with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) have difficulties with cognitive-based executive function (EF) tasks. The goal of the present study was to determine if children with FASD have impairments on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which measures affective EF (i.e., decision-making and risk-taking). Individuals with FASD (n = 31) and healthy controls (n = 31), aged 8-17 completed the IGT. Children with FASD were significantly impaired on the IGT compared to controls. Over the course of the task, control scores improved, whereas children with FASD exhibited an overall decrease in scores. Scores increased significantly with age in the control group but did not differ significantly with age for FASD participants. Children with FASD exhibited decision-making and risk-taking impairments on a hot EF task. Children with FASD did not appear to learn from negative experiences and shift to making more positive decisions over time and their performance did not improve with age. The implications of poor task performance and a lack of age-related findings in children with FASD are discussed.

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