Emerging research suggests that some age-related deficits in decision making may be linked to the way individuals represent expected value. My work in this area has sought to examine how the probability and variance of outcomes can influence this representation in older adults. For instance, we have observed that older adults have a tendency to accept more positively-skewed financial risks (with a small chance of a large win) than other types of equivalent gambles (Seaman, Leong et al, 2017) and this age-related positive-skew bias is related to age differences in the recruitment of the lateral prefrontal cortex. Further, a follow-up study has shown that the age-related increase in acceptance of positively-skewed bets is not due increased in loss aversion in older adults (Seaman, Green et al., 2018). Taken together, these studies suggest that the processing of probabilistic information can profoundly affect the way individuals, and particularly older adults, make risky decisions.
Individual differences in behavioral positive skew bias are related to individual difference in anticipatory brain activity related to skew valence in these regions (Seaman, Leong et al., 2017)