Reward-based decision-making in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy patients with unilateral hippocampal sclerosis pre- and post-surgery

NeuroImage. Clinical

Neuroimage Clin. 2022;36:103251. doi: 10.1016/j.nicl.2022.103251. Epub 2022 Oct 31.


BACKGROUND: Correct functioning of the reward processing system is critical for optimizing decision-making as well as preventing the development of addictions and/or neuropsychiatric symptoms such as depression, apathy, and anhedonia. Consequently, patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy due to unilateral hippocampal sclerosis (mTLE-UHS) represent an excellent opportunity to study the brain networks involved in this system.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the current study was to evaluate decision-making and the electrophysiological correlates of feedback processing in a sample of mTLE-UHS patients, compared to healthy controls. In addition, we assessed the impact of mesial temporal lobe surgical resection on these processes, as well as general, neuropsychological functioning.

METHOD: 17 mTLE-UHS patients and 17 matched healthy controls completed: [1] a computerized version of the Game of Dice Task, [2] a Standard Iowa Gambling Task, and [3] a modified ERP version of a probabilistic gambling task coupled with multichannel electroencephalography. Neuropsychological scores were also obtained both pre- and post-surgery.

RESULTS: Behavioral analyses showed a pattern of increased risk for the mTLE-UHS group in decision-making under ambiguity compared to the control group. A decrease in the amplitude of the Feedback Related Negativity (FRN), a weaker effect of valence on delta power, and a general reduction of delta and theta power in the mTLE-UHS group, as compared to the control group, were also found. The beta-gamma activity associated with the delivery of positive reward was similar in both groups. Behavioral performance and electrophysiological measures did not worsen post-surgery.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with mTLE-UHS showed impairments in decision-making under ambiguity, particularly when they had to make decisions based on the outcomes of their choices, but not in decision-making under risk. No group differences were observed in decision-making when feedbacks were random. These results might be explained by the abnormal feedback processing seen in the EEG activity of patients with mTLE-UHS, and by concomitant impairments in working memory, and memory. These impairments may be linked to the disruption of mesial temporal lobe networks. Finally, feedback processing and decision-making under ambiguity were already affected in mTLE-UHS patients pre-surgery and did not show evidence of clear worsening post-surgery.

PMID:36510413 | PMC:PMC9668642 | DOI:10.1016/j.nicl.2022.103251