Objectives Bipolar disorders' (BD) onset before age 18 is a potential marker for a more severe illness course. Adolescence is also a period of significant normative maturation of inhibitory control and reward-relevant decision-making processes, such as decreased delay discounting (i.e., decreased preference for smaller, immediate versus larger, delayed rewards). Adults with BD exhibit elevated delay discounting rates. Very little is known about developmental changes in delay discounting in adolescents with BD, or about associations between inhibitory control and delay discounting in BD. The present study addresses these questions. Methods The sample included 78 participants, ages 13 to 23, with BD or without history of mental illness. Group differences and group by age interaction effects on delay discounting (32 BD, 32 controls with valid responses), probability discounting (34 BD, 37 controls) and inhibitory control indices (34 BD, 38 controls) were assessed. Results Among healthy controls, less discounting of delayed rewards was associated with older age, whereas adolescents with BD did not show age-related associations. There were no group differences in probability discounting or inhibitory control. Limitations The cross-sectional nature of the study cannot fully rule out the less likely interpretation of group differences in cohort effects. Conclusions The lack of age-related improvement in delay tolerance in BD suggests disrupted development of executive control processes within reward contexts, which in turn may contribute to understanding more severe course of pediatric onset BD. Longitudinal studies are needed to examine delay discounting in relation to maturation of neural reward systems among adolescents with BD.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank the University of Minnesota's Center for Neurobehavioral Development for resources and support of the presented research; Elizabeth Olson, Ph.D., and Steve Malone, Ph.D., for their creation of the task scripts; and research participants and their families for participation in this research. Data collection, analysis and Snežana Urošević's work on the manuscript was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants T32 MH 017069 and K01 093621. The funding agency did not influence study design, analyses, manuscript preparation, or publication process. Eric Youngstrom, Ph.D., has consulted with Pearson, Western Psychological Services, Otsuka, and Lundbeck about psychological assessment. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.
- Bipolar Disorder
- Delay Discounting