Risk-taking in disorders of natural and drug rewards: Neural correlates and effects of probability, valence, and magnitude

Valerie Voon, Laurel S. Morris, Michael A. Irvine, Christian Ruck, Yulia Worbe, Katherine Derbyshire, Vladan Rankov, Liana R.N. Schreiber, Brian L. Odlaug, Neil A. Harrison, Jonathan Wood, Trevor W. Robbins, Edward T. Bullmore, Jon E. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Pathological behaviors toward drugs and food rewards have underlying commonalities. Risk-taking has a fourfold pattern varying as a function of probability and valence leading to the nonlinearity of probability weighting with overweighting of small probabilities and underweighting of large probabilities. Here we assess these influences on risk-taking in patients with pathological behaviors toward drug and food rewards and examine structural neural correlates of nonlinearity of probability weighting in healthy volunteers. In the anticipation of rewards, subjects with binge eating disorder show greater risk-taking, similar to substance-use disorders. Methamphetamine-dependent subjects had greater nonlinearity of probability weighting along with impaired subjective discrimination of probability and reward magnitude. Ex-smokers also had lower risk-taking to rewards compared with non-smokers. In the anticipation of losses, obesity without binge eating had a similar pattern to other substance-use disorders. Obese subjects with binge eating also have impaired discrimination of subjective value similar to that of the methamphetamine-dependent subjects. Nonlinearity of probability weighting was associated with lower gray matter volume in dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex and orbitofrontal cortex in healthy volunteers. Our findings support a distinct subtype of binge eating disorder in obesity with similarities in risk-taking in the reward domain to substance use disorders. The results dovetail with the current approach of defining mechanistically based dimensional approaches rather than categorical approaches to psychiatric disorders. The relationship to risk probability and valence may underlie the propensity toward pathological behaviors toward different types of rewards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-812
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was funded by a Wellcome Trust Fellowship grant to Valerie Voon (093705/Z/10/Z). VV and NAH are Wellcome Trust (WT) intermediate Clinical Fellow. YW is supported by the Fyssen Fondation. The BCNI is supported by a WT and MRC grant. JEG has received grants from the National Institute of Drug Abuse and the National Center for Responsible Gaming. ETB is employed part-time by the University of Cambridge and part-time by GSK PLC and is a shareholder of GSK. TWR is a consultant for Cambridge Cognition, Eli Lilly, GSK, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme, Lundbeck, Teva and Shire Pharmaceuticls. He is or has been in receipt of research grants from Lundbeck, Eli Lilly and GSK and is an editor for Springer-Verlag (Psychopharmacology). JEG has received research grant support from NIDA, NCRG, Psyadon Pharmaceuticals and Transcept Pharmaceuticals. He has also received royalties from American Psychiatric Publishing Inc, Oxford University Press, Norton, and McGraw Hill Publishers. BLO received a research grant from the Trichotillomania Learning Center, consults for Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals, and receives honoraria from Oxford University Press. The remaining authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology. All rights reserved.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


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