gambling addiction biology

A new study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry showed that cravings related to gambling addiction stimulate the same pathways in the brain as addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the Imperial College School of Medicine in the U.K. sought to approach gambling disorder from a medical perspective by taking the medical model of substance use disorder and applying it to gambling disorder.

A total of 19 males were recruited from the National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, and researchers had a second control group of 19 healthy males. The brain activity of both groups was measured as they viewed gambling-related images and neutral images. Researchers found that these patients showed a craving response to gambling after they viewed the gambling-related cues.

“We wanted to try and improve on current research by doing something that hadn’t been done before, which was using personally tailored cues,” said researcher Eve Limbrick-Oldfield. “We wanted, to some extent, to tailor our cues to the form of gambling that the gamblers were involved in.”

Researchers discovered that two areas of the brain showed increased activity when those with a gambling addiction experienced the cue-elicited cravings. The response of addicted gamblers to these images was also very different than the responses of the control group who viewed the same images.

One unique aspect of this study was… (continue reading)