Bernd Figner, Elke Weber
Risk taking behaviors in everyday-life typically follow a characteristic developmental pattern. They are low during childhood, increase sharply with puberty, peak in adolescence and early adulthood, and decline again during middle and late adulthood. Though well documented, e.g., from accident statistics, the reasons are still not very well understood. Recent neuroscientific research suggested that the competition between distinct neural networks determines risk taking. Only when affective processes are triggered, adolescents tend show more impulsive risk taking and suboptimal information use than both children and adults due to a usually transient dominance of the affective over the cognitive-control network.
We developed the “Columbia Card Task” (CCT) to investigate developmental changes and individual differences in healthy individuals across the life span and in populations such as substance users. The CCT enables us to compare affect-based versus deliberative risky decisions and their triggering mechanisms as well as predictors of risk taking, such as inhibitory control, need-for-arousal, and impulsivity. Besides behavioral methods, we are using physiological measures, brain imaging, and brain stimulation techniques.
For more information (including CCT demo versions), please go to the Official CCT Webpage.