Iowa Gambling Task performance in euthymic bipolar I disorder: A meta-analysis and empirical study


Background: The Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) has been recommended as an index of reward sensitivity, which is elevated in bipolar disorder. We conducted a meta-analysis of IGT performance in euthymic bipolar I disorder compared with control participants. Findings indicated that people with bipolar disorder make more risky choices than control participants, though the effect is small (g = 0.35). It is not clear which of the many processes involved in IGT performance are involved in producing the observed group difference. Methods: Fifty-five euthymic people with bipolar disorder and 39 control participants completed the IGT. The Expectancy Valence Model was used to examine differences in IGT. We also examined whether variation in IGT performance within the bipolar group was related to current mood, illness course, impulsivity, or demographics. Results: Bipolar and control groups did not differ on the total number of risky choices, rate of learning, or any of the parameters of the Expectancy Valence Model. IGT performance in bipolar disorder was not related to any of the examined individual differences. Limitations: It is possible that there are group differences that are too small to detect at our sample size or that are not amenable to study via the Expectancy Valence Model. Conclusions: We were unable to identify group differences on the IGT or correlates of IGT performance within bipolar disorder. Though the IGT may serve as a useful model for decision-making, its structure may make it unsuitable for behavioral assessment of reward sensitivity independent of punishment sensitivity.

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