Monday, June 24, 2013

Brains of Pathological Gamblers Show Greater Response to Money Than Sex, Study Finds

It appears that the brains of pathological gamblers want money more than sex, Jean-Claude Dreher of the Cognitive Neuroscience Center in Lyon, France, and colleagues report in Brain. The researchers used fMRI imaging to compare the brains of 18 pathological gamblers and 20 healthy control subjects while the subjects engaged in a simple task involving either monetary rewards or visual erotic rewards. The ventral striatum of those with pathological gambling reacted less to erotic stimuli than to money-related ones, while the reverse was the case in control subjects. Furthermore, during reward outcome, a posterior orbitofrontal cortex region responding to erotic rewards in both groups was further activated by monetary gains in the pathological gamblers, but not in the control subjects. Thus the brains of pathological gamblers appear to be "biased towards monetary rewards, potentially promoting addictive gambling behavior," the researchers concluded.

Gambling disorder is included among substance-related and addictive disorders in DSM-5. For information on that topic, see Psychiatric News. For more information about pathological gambling, see American Psychiatric Publishing's Pathological Gambling - A Clinical Guide to Treatment.

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