In the study, investigators from the University of Granada determined that gambling addicts have brain function abnormalities affecting their decision-making capacity.
Previous research has confirmed that cocaine addiction influences the part of the brain (anterior cingulate and part of the prefrontal cortex) necessary for impulse control.
The new research shows that individuals addicted to gambling present other brain function abnormalities in areas of the prefrontal cortex. These are related to the severity of their affliction and affect their capacity to take decisions.
Principal investigators José César Perales and Ana Torres explain that “these bad decisions affect the individuals’ ability to recognize and evaluate loss, even when this is not financial loss.”
Interestingly, emotion appear to exacerbate the brain deficiencies as the tendency to take bad decisions increased significantly when a study participant experienced negative emotions such as anxiety or sadness.
From the data gathered, researchers derived “practical guidelines of direct use in the psychological treatment of both addictions.”
Firstly, loss of impulse control sparked by chronic cocaine consumption can in turn impede treatment and, therefore, should be taken into account when establishing a prognosis.
Secondly, the rehabilitation-oriented treatment for pathological gambling should involve direct treatment of the emotional problems that trigger the need to gamble, and to undergo specific training that enables the individual to adequately evaluate losses and their consequences.
Source: University of Granada