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Gambling Addiction Impacts Decision-Making Area of Brain

Gambling Addiction Impacts Decision-Making Area of Brain A new research effort compares the similarities and differences in psychological profile and brain function among cocaine addicts and gambling addicts.

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


Man losing at gambling symbol photo by shutterstock.

Gambling Addiction Impacts Decision-Making Area of Brain

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Gambling Addiction Impacts Decision-Making Area of Brain. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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