Objectives: The present research explored the effect of reward sensitivity bias and metacognitive deficits on substance use disorder (SUD) in the decision-making process. Methods: The behavioral activation system (BAS) was used as a predictive marker of dysfunctional behavior during the Iowa gambling task (IGT). We also tried to relate this motivational system bias to self-reported metacognitive measures (self-knowledge, strategic planning, flexibility, and efficacy) in the decision processes. Thirty-four SUD participants (cocaine dependent) and 39 participants in the control group underwent the IGT. Results: The SUD group was associated with a poorer performance on the IGT and a dysfunctional metacognition ability (unrealistic representation). An increase in the reward sensitivity (higher BAS, BAS reward responsiveness, and BAS reward) was observed in the SUD group compared with the control group and explained (through a regression analysis) the main behavioral deficits. More generally, an increase in the BAS reward responsiveness may be considered a predictive measure of risk-taking and dysfunctional behavior, not only in pathological (SUD) individuals, but also in subclinical individuals (controls). Conclusions: We discuss the likely cognitive, brain, and neurotransmitter contributions to this phenomenon.
- Metacognitive deficit
- Reward mechanism