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Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Markowitsch H.J.,Bielefeld University

Neuropsychological research contributes to a better understanding of cognitive mechanisms involved in making advantageous decisions, which is important for everyday life. Using laboratory gambling tasks, it has been demonstrated that both structural and functional brain changes can result in disadvantageous decision-making linked to reductions in executive functioning and feedback processing. However, relatively little is known about whether or not decision-making on these tasks is affected by normal aging. We argue that functions involved in decision-making - in particular categorization and monitoring processes - are most likely reduced in older adults. These reductions should lead to decision-making difficulties in older individuals. However, we also argue that the effects of age on decision-making depend on the type of decision situation (i.e. ambiguous or risky) in combination with the complexity of the decision-making task. In addition, we give a brief overview of methodological issues that should be taken into account in future studies on decision-making and aging. © 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel. Source

Starcke K.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Polzer C.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Wolf O.T.,Ruhr University Bochum | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Recent studies in the field of neuropsychological decision-making as well as moral psychology emphasize the role of emotions in decision-making. The current study examines whether stress affects moral decision-making. We induced stress in 20 participants with the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST) and also examined 20 participants in a control condition (Placebo TSST). The level of stress was assessed with questionnaires and endocrine markers (salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase). All participants performed a moral decision-making task in which everyday moral dilemmas were described. Dilemmas varied in emotional intensity and each offered a rather egoistic and a rather altruistic option. Results show that groups did not differ significantly in everyday moral decision-making. However, cortisol responses and egoistic decision-making in emotional dilemmas were positively correlated. Our results indicate that stress per se does not cause more egoistic decision-making in the current setting but suggest an association between the individual's cortisol stress response and egoistic decision-making in high-emotional situations. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging | Young K.S.,St. Bonaventure University | Laier C.,University of Duisburg - Essen
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Most people use the Internet as a functional tool to perform their personal goals in everyday-life such as making airline or hotel reservations. However, some individuals suffer from a loss of control over their Internet use resulting in personal distress, symptoms of psychological dependence, and diverse negative consequences. This phenomenon is often referred to as Internet addiction. Only Internet Gaming Disorder has been included in the appendix of the DSM-5, but it has already been argued that Internet addiction could also comprise problematic use of other applications with cybersex, online relations, shopping, and information search being Internet facets at risk for developing an addictive behavior. Neuropsychological investigations have pointed out that certain prefrontal functions in particular executive control functions are related to symptoms of Internet addiction, which is in line with recent theoretical models on the development and maintenance of the addictive use of the Internet. Control processes are particularly reduced when individuals with Internet addiction are confronted with Internet-related cues representing their first choice use. For example, processing Internet-related cues interferes with working memory performance and decision making. Consistent with this, results from functional neuroimaging and other neuropsychological studies demonstrate that cue-reactivity, craving, and decision making are important concepts for understanding Internet addiction. The findings on reductions in executive control are consistent with other behavioral addictions, such as pathological gambling. They also emphasize the classification of the phenomenon as an addiction, because there are also several similarities with findings in substance dependency. The neuropsychological and neuroimaging results have important clinical impact, as one therapy goal should enhance control over the Internet use by modifying specific cognitions and Internet use expectancies. © 2014 Brand, Young and Laier. Source

Trotzke P.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Starcke K.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Pedersen A.,University of Munster | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychosomatic Medicine

Objective: Pathological buying is associated with marked distress and impaired functioning in important life domains. It is currently under debate whether pathological buying can be considered a behavioral addiction. In analogy to results reported in addicted individuals, craving reactions elicited by addiction-related cues might be an underlying mechanism for the etiology and pathogenesis of pathological buying. Methods: In the present study, 30 pathological buyers and 30 matched control participants were examined with a cue-reactivity paradigm consisting of shopping and control cues. Skin conductance responses, as well as subjective ratings for arousal, valence, and urge to buy, were assessed. Subjective craving reactions were measured before and after the cue-reactivity paradigm. Results: On a physiological level, skin conductance responses toward shopping cues were higher in pathological buyers (mean [M; standard deviation {SD}] = 0.26 [0.13]) compared with control participants (M [SD] = 0.19 [0.09]; t(58) = 2.29, p = .025, d = 0.60). On a behavioral level, the individuals with pathological buying rated the shopping cues as more arousing and more positive, and reported a greater urge to buy compared with control participants and with control cues. An increase in subjective craving after completing the cue-reactivity paradigmwas observed only in the pathological buyers (Mpre [SD] = 1.95 [1.47],Mpost [SD] = 2.87 [1.79]; t(29) = 5.07, p < .001, d = 0.97). Conclusions: Cue-reactivity and craving might be potential correlates for the development and maintenance of pathological buying. The results demonstrate similarities between pathological buying and substance or behavioral addictions and provide implications for clinical treatment. Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychosomatic Society. Source

Pawlikowski M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,University of Duisburg - Essen | Brand M.,Erwin L Hahn Institute For Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Psychiatry Research

The dysfunctional behavior of excessive Internet gamers, such as preferring the immediate reward (to play World of Warcraft) despite the negative long-term consequences may be comparable with the dysfunctional behavior in substance abusers or individuals with behavioral addictions, e.g. pathological gambling. In these disorders, general decision-making deficits have been demonstrated. Hence, the aim of the present work was to examine decision-making competences of excessive World of Warcraft players. Nineteen excessive Internet gamers (EIG) and a control group (CG) consisting of 19 non-gamers were compared with respect to decision-making abilities. The Game of Dice Task (GDT) was applied to measure decision-making under risky conditions. Furthermore psychological-psychiatric symptoms were assessed in both groups. The EIG showed a reduced decision-making ability in the GDT. Furthermore the EIG group showed a higher psychological-psychiatric symptomatology in contrast to the CG. The results indicate that the reduced decision-making ability of EIG is comparable with patients with other forms of behavioral addiction (e.g. pathological gambling), impulse control disorders or substance abusers. Thus, these results suggest that excessive Internet gaming may be based on a myopia for the future, meaning that EIG prefer to play World of Warcraft despite the negative long-term consequences in social or work domains of life. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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