The effect of positive autobiographical memory retrieval on decision-making under risk: A computational model-based analysis

Natsumi Shimizu, Yasuhiro Mochizuki, Chong Chen*, Kosuke Hagiwara, Karin Matsumoto, Yusuke Oda, Masako Hirotsu, Emi Okabe, Toshio Matsubara, Shin Nakagawa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Psychiatric disorders such as depressive and anxiety disorders are associated with altered decision-making under risk. Recent advances in neuroeconomics and computational psychiatry have further discomposed risk-based decision-making into distinct cognitive computational constructs and showed that there may be disorder-specific alterations in these constructs. As a result, it has been suggested these cognitive computational constructs may serve as useful behavioral biomarkers for these disorders. However, to date, little is known about what psychological or behavioral interventions can help to reverse and manage the altered cognitive computational constructs underlying risk-based decision-making. In the present study, we set out to investigate whether recalling positive autobiographical memories may affect risk-based decision-making in healthy volunteers using a description-based task. Specifically, based on theories of behavioral economics, we dissected risk preference into two cognitive computational constructs, utility sensitivity and probability weighting. We found that compared to recalling neutral memories, retrieving positive autobiographical memories increased utility sensitivity (Cohen's d = 0.447), indicating reduced risk aversion. Meanwhile, we also tested the influence of memory retrieval on probability weighting, the effect, however, was unreliable and requires further in-depth investigation. Of clinical relevance, the change in risk aversion after recalling positive memories was in the opposite direction compared to those reported in psychiatric disorders. These results argue for the potential therapeutic effect of positive autobiographical memory retrieval for the amendment of altered risk-based decision-making in psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number930466
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept 6


  • computational neuroscience
  • decision-making
  • positive autobiographical memory
  • probability weighting
  • risk preference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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