An information processing/associative learning account of behavioral disinhibition in externalizing psychopathology
AbstractExternalizing psychopathology (EXT) is associated with low executive working memory (EWM) capacity and problems with inhibitory control and decision-making; however, the specific cognitive processes underlying these problems are not well known. This study used a linear ballistic accumulator computational model of go/no-go associative-incentive learning conducted with and without a working memory (WM) load to investigate these cognitive processes in 510 young adults varying in EXT (lifetime problems with substance use, conduct disorder, ADHD, adult antisocial behavior). High scores on an EXT factor were associated with low EWM capacity and higher scores on a latent variable reflecting the cognitive processes underlying disinhibited decision-making (more false alarms, faster evidence accumulation rates for false alarms [vFA], and lower scores on a Response Precision Index [RPI] measure of information processing efficiency). The WM load increased disinhibited decision-making, decisional uncertainty, and response caution for all subjects. Higher EWM capacity was associated with lower scores on the latent disinhibited decision-making variable (lower false alarms, lower vFA s and RPI scores) in both WM load conditions. EWM capacity partially mediated the association between EXT and disinhibited decision-making under no-WM load, and completely mediated this association under WM load. The results underline the role that EWM has in associative-incentive go/no-go learning and indicate that common to numerous types of EXT are impairments in the cognitive processes associated with the evidence accumulation-evaluation- decision process. © 2014 American Psychological Association.