Sociology, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 2018, 656–663


Copyright The Author(s) (2018).

Open access

doi: 10.1093/scan/nsy038


Links between individual differences in risk processing and high-risk behaviors such as binge-drinking have long been the focus of active research. However, investigations in this area almost exclusively utilize decision-making focused paradigms. This emphasis makes it difficult to assess links between risk behaviors and raw risk reactivity independent of decision and feedback processes. A deeper understanding of this association has the potential to shed light on the role of risk reactivity in high-risk behavior susceptibility. To contribute toward this aim, this study utilizes a popular risk-taking game, the crocodile dentist, to assess links between individual differences in decision-free risk-reactivity and reported binge-drinking frequency levels. In this task, participants engage in a series of decision-free escalating risk responses. Risk-reactivity was assessed by measuring late positive potential responses toward risk-taking action initiation cues using high-density 256-Channel EEG. The results indicate that, after controlling for overall alcohol consumption frequency, higher rates of reported binge-drinking are associated with both increased general risk-taking responsivity and increased risk-reactivity escalation as a function of risk level. These findings highlight intriguing links between risk reactivity and binge-drinking frequency, making key contributions in the areas of risk-taking and affective science.