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Decision-Making Deficits Predict Social Problems in Children with ADHD: Study

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June 16, 2024Decision-making deficits may signal and lead to social problems for children with ADHD. Strong feelings of delay aversion — which cause individuals with ADHD to choose the option most likely to avoid delays and wait times — drive poor decision making for youth with ADHD, according to a two-phased longitudinal study published by Nature in March.1The study is the first to investigate and link general deficits in decision making to social problems in ADHD.

Children aged 8 to 12 completed the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT) in 2016 and again four years later.2 At both time points, poorer risk adjustment and stronger delay aversion were associated with social problems for participants with ADHD, but not for typically developing children.The CGT is a computerized test developed to assess decision-making and risk-taking behavior across a variety of disorders, including ADHD, mood disorders, and traumatic brain injury.

Participants were shown 10 boxes — some red, some blue — and asked to guess which of the two colors hid a yellow token. The proportion of red to blue boxes varied between rounds.Participants also estimated the likelihood of their choice being correct by clicking on a wager value displayed on the screen, in ascending or descending order, as a percentage of total points.

Points were either awarded or deducted from the participant’s starting score of 100 based on the accuracy of their bets.Four outcomes were measured using the CGT: delay aversion, risk adjustment, reflection time, and risk proneness.

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