The Bangor gambling task: Characterising the performance of survivors of traumatic brain injury

Abstract

The Bangor Gambling Task (BGT, Bowman & Turnbull, 2004) is a simple test of emotion-based decision-making, with contingencies varying across five blocks of 20 trials. This is the first study to characterise BGT performance in survivors of traumatic brain injury (TBI) relative to healthy controls. The study also aimed to explore sub-groups (cluster analysis), and identify predictors of task performance (multiple regression). Thirty survivors of TBI and 39 controls completed the BGT and measures of processing speed, premorbid IQ, working memory, and executive function. Results showed that survivors of TBI made more gamble choices than controls (total BGT score), although the groups did not significantly differ when using a cut-off score for ‘impaired’ performance. Unexpectedly, the groups did not significantly differ in their performance across the blocks, however, the cluster analysis revealed three subgroups (with survivors of TBI and controls represented in each cluster). Findings also indicated that only age and group were significant predictors of overall BGT performance. In conclusion, the study findings are consistent with an individual differences account of emotion-based decision-making, and a number of issues need to be addressed prior to recommending the clinical use of the BGT.

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