Risk Taking for Potential Reward Decreases across the Lifespan

Article English OPEN
Rutledge, Robb B. ; Smittenaar, Peter ; Zeidman, Peter ; Brown, Harriet R. ; Adams, Rick A. ; Lindenberger, Ulman ; Dayan, Peter ; Dolan, Raymond J. (2016)
  • Publisher: Cell Press
  • Journal: Current Biology, volume 26, issue 12, pages 1,634-1,639 (issn: 0960-9822, eissn: 1879-0445)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC4920952, doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.05.017
  • Subject: Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all) | Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all) | Report | Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, AGE-RELATED-CHANGES, DECISION-MAKING, PREDICTION ERRORS, DOPAMINERGIC MODULATION, PROSPECT-THEORY, WORKING-MEMORY, OLDER-ADULTS, BRAIN, INDIVIDUALS, VARIABILITY

Summary The extent to which aging affects decision-making is controversial. Given the critical financial decisions that older adults face (e.g., managing retirement funds), changes in risk preferences are of particular importance [1]. Although some studies have found that older individuals are more risk averse than younger ones [2, 3, 4], there are also conflicting results, and a recent meta-analysis found no evidence for a consistent change in risk taking across the lifespan [5]. There has as yet been little examination of one potential substrate for age-related changes in decision-making, namely age-related decline in dopamine, a neuromodulator associated with risk-taking behavior. Here, we characterized choice preferences in a smartphone-based experiment (n = 25,189) in which participants chose between safe and risky options. The number of risky options chosen in trials with potential gains but not potential losses decreased gradually over the lifespan, a finding with potentially important economic consequences for an aging population. Using a novel approach-avoidance computational model, we found that a Pavlovian attraction to potential reward declined with age. This Pavlovian bias has been linked to dopamine, suggesting that age-related decline in this neuromodulator could lead to the observed decrease in risk taking.
  • References (43)
    43 references, page 1 of 5

    1. Samanez-Larkin, G.R., and Knutson, B. (2015). Decision making in the ageing brain: changes in affective and motivational circuits. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 16, 278-289.

    2. Deakin, J., Aitken, M., Robbins, T., and Sahakian, B.J. (2004). Risk taking during decision-making in normal volunteers changes with age. J. Int. Neuropsychol. Soc. 10, 590-598.

    3. Dohmen, T., Falk, A., Huffman, D., Sunde, U., Schupp, J., and Wagner, G.G. (2005). Individual risk attitudes: new evidence from a large, representative, experimentally-validated survey. IZA Discussion Paper Series No. 1730. http://ftp.iza.org/dp1730.pdf.

    4. Tymula, A., Rosenberg Belmaker, L.A., Ruderman, L., Glimcher, P.W., and Levy, I. (2013). Like cognitive function, decision making across the life span shows profound age-related changes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 110, 17143-17148.

    5. Mata, R., Josef, A.K., Samanez-Larkin, G.R., and Hertwig, R. (2011). Age differences in risky choice: a meta-analysis. Ann. N Y Acad. Sci. 1235, 18-29.

    6. Rutledge, R.B., Skandali, N., Dayan, P., and Dolan, R.J. (2015). Dopaminergic modulation of decision making and subjective well-being. J. Neurosci. 35, 9811-9822.

    7. Kahneman, D., and Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: an analysis of decision under risk. Econometrica 47, 263-291.

    8. Tversky, A., and Kahneman, D. (1992). Advances in prospect theory - cumulative representations of uncertainty. J. Risk Uncertain. 5, 297-323.

    9. Sokol-Hessner, P., Hsu, M., Curley, N.G., Delgado, M.R., Camerer, C.F., and Phelps, E.A. (2009). Thinking like a trader selectively reduces individuals' loss aversion. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, 5035-5040.

    10. Frydman, C., Camerer, C., Bossaerts, P., and Rangel, A. (2011). MAOA-L carriers are better at making optimal financial decisions under risk. Proc. Biol. Sci. 278, 2053-2059.

  • Metrics
    views in OpenAIRE
    views in local repository
    downloads in local repository

    The information is available from the following content providers:

    From Number Of Views Number Of Downloads
    UCL Discovery - IRUS-UK 0 17
Share - Bookmark