Background: Alcohol use has been previously associated with neurocognitive impairments, especially in decision-making cognition. However, some studies have shown little to no decision-making deficits in relation to different characteristics of people with drinking problems. Relapsing to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is an important issue with legal and psychosocial aspects. We evaluated decision-making performance in second-time DUI offenders by using the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT).
Method: Thirty-four male second-time DUI offenders who had been selected for an official psychoeducational rehabilitation program and 31 healthy controls that were matched for age, education, and alcohol use were included. Along with psychiatric assessment, we applied conventional neuropsychological testing comprising cognitive set-shifting, response inhibition, attention, and visuospatial abilities. Also, we used the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) to assess personality patterns. A computerized version of IGT was used.
Results: No significant differences were found between the groups in regard to sociodemographics and conventional neuropsychological testing. DUI participants had significantly higher scores only in “self-transcendence” subdomain of TCI. On the fifth block of the IGT, DUI participants had significantly lower net scores than controls (U = 380.0, p < 0.05). Also, DUI participants chose significantly more risky decks compared to controls.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that there may be subtle decision-making deficits in DUI participants, which goes undetected on conventional neuropsychological testing and which is not correlated with TCI subdomains related with impulsivity patterns.