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The Role of Cognitive Control in the Processes Underlying Easy And Difficult Risky Monetary Decision-Making

Risky decision-making leverages other cognitive functions as part of the processes underlying valuation and choice, but the direct connections between these domains of cognitive function and risky choice have only recently been examined. A total of 50 participants, age 18-22 , completed an online experiment with a two-part task. First participants completed a novel risky decision-making task in which they initially completed an identical static choice set of gamble options, followed by a dynamic choice set tailored to the individual and designed to equate subjective difficulty of choices across participants. Both choice behavior (probability of gambling, choice, output) and reaction time (seconds) were measured. An additional task, a digit span measure, was used to quantify participant working memory capacity, defined as cognitive control capacity. The study concluded with a Need for Cognition Questionnaire and additional demographic questionnaires. Thus far, results suggest an effect of current trial type (i.e., difficulty) on reaction time (ß = -0.030, SE =0.00228 , p < 2𝑥 10−16), but no effect of the previous trial’s difficulty (ß = 8.27𝑥 10−4 , SE = 2.32 𝑥 10−3, p = 0.723).  However, when looking at a continuous model of choice difficulty, there is a weak effect of previous difficulty on reaction time (ß = -0.0195, SE =0.00793 , p = 0.01418) and a significant interaction between choice difficulty and capacity (high or low; ß = -0.0238, SE =0.00791 , p = 0.00269). These results will be further analyzed to better elucidate the relationship between cognitive capacity, choice difficulty, and risky monetary decision making. This work could have important implications for  quantifying of a potential relationship between control and risky choice.