Decision making in Parkinson's disease: An analysis of the studies using the Iowa Gambling Task

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In Parkinson's disease (PD) impairments in decision making can occur, in particular because of the tendency toward risky and rewarding options. The Iowa Gambling Task has been widely used to investigate decision processes involving these options. The task assesses the ability to manage risk and to learn from feedback. The present paper aims at critically examining those studies in which this task has been administered to PD patients, in order to understand possible anomalies in patients' decision processes and which variables are responsible for that. A meta-analysis has been conducted as well. Features of the task, sociodemographic and clinical aspects (including daily drugs intake), cognitive conditions and emotional disorders of the patients have been taken into account. Neural correlates of decision-making competences were considered. It emerged that PD patients show a trend of preference toward risky choices, probably due to an impairment in anticipating the unrewarding consequences or to an insensitiveness to punishment. The possible role played by dopamine medications in decision making under uncertain conditions, affecting basal ganglia and structures involved in the limbic loop, was discussed. Attention has been focused on some aspects that need to be investigated in further research, in order to delve into this issue and promote patients' quality of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7513-7549
Number of pages37
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • decision making
  • impulsivity
  • reward
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Iowa Gambling Task


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