Cognitive Deficits in Executive Functions and Decision-Making Impairments Cluster Gambling Disorder Sub-types (2017)

J Gambl Stud. 2017 Oct 20. doi: 10.1007/s10899-017-9724-0.

Mallorquí-Bagué N1,2, Tolosa-Sola I3,4, Fernández-Aranda F3,4,5, Granero R4,6, Fagundo AB3,4, Lozano-Madrid M3,4, Mestre-Bach G3,4, Gómez-Peña M3, Aymamí N3, Borrás-González I3, Sánchez-González J3, Baño M3, Del Pino-Gutiérrez A3, Menchón JM3, Jiménez-Murcia S7,8,9.


To identify Gambling Disorder (GD) subtypes, in a population of men seeking treatment for GD, according to specific executive function domains (i.e., cognitive flexibility, inhibition and working memory as well as decision making) which are usually impaired in addictive behaviors. A total of 145 males ranging from 18 to 65 years diagnosed with GD were included in this study. All participants completed: (a) a set of questionnaires to assess psychopathological symptoms, personality and impulsivity traits, and (b) a battery of neuropsychological measures to test different executive functioning domains. Two clusters were identified based on the individual performance on the neuropsychological assessment. Cluster 1 [n = 106; labeled as Low Impaired Executive Function (LIEF)] was composed by patients with poor results in the neuropsychological assessment; cluster 2 patients [n = 46; labeled as High Impaired Executive Function (HIEF)] presented significantly higher deficits on the assessed domains and performed worse than the ones of LIEF cluster. Regarding the characterization of these two clusters, patients in cluster 2 were significantly older, unemployed and registered higher mean age of GD onset than patients in cluster 1. Additionally, patients in cluster 2 also obtained higher psychopathological symptoms, impulsivity (in both positive and negative urgency as well as sensation seeking) and some specific personality traits (higher harm avoidance as well as lower self-directedness and cooperativeness) than patients in cluster 1. The results of this study describe two different GD subtypes based on different cognitive domains (i.e., executive function performance). These two GD subtypes display different impulsivity and personality traits as well as clinical symptoms. The results provide new insight into the etiology and characterization of GD and have the potential to help improving current treatments.


Cognitive flexibility; Decision-making; Executive function; Gambling disorder; Personality; Subtypes

PMID: 29058168

DOI: 10.1007/s10899-017-9724-0