Motivational and cognitive abnormalities are frequently reported in pathological gambling. However, studies simultaneously investigating motivational and cognitive processing in problematic gamblers are lacking, limiting our understanding of the interplay between these systems in problematic gambling. Studies in non-clinical samples indicate that interactions between dorsal “executive” and ventral “affective” processing systems are necessary for adequate responses in various emotive situations.
We conducted a generalized Psycho-Physiological Interaction (gPPI) analysis to assess the influence of affective stimuli on changes in functional connectivity associated with response inhibition in 16 treatment seeking problematic gamblers (PRGs) and 15 healthy controls (HCs) using an affective Go-NoGo fMRI paradigm including neutral, gambling-related, positive and negative pictures as neutral and affective conditions.
Across groups, task performance accuracy during neutral inhibition trials was positively correlated with functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right middle frontal cortex. During inhibition in the gambling condition, only in PRGs accuracy of task performance was positively correlated with functional connectivity within sub-regions of the dorsal executive system. Group interactions showed that during neutral inhibition, HCs exhibited greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex than PRGs. In contrast, during inhibition in the positive condition, PRGs compared to HCs showed greater functional connectivity between the left caudate and occipital cortex. During inhibition trials in the negative condition, a stronger functional connectivity between the left caudate and the right anterior cingulate cortex in PRGs compared to HCs was present. There were no group interactions during inhibition in the gambling condition.
During gamble inhibition PRGs seem to benefit more from functional connectivity within the dorsal executive system than HCs, because task accuracy in this condition in PRGs is positively correlated with functional connectivity, although the groups show similar connectivity patterns during gamble inhibition. Greater functional connectivity between the ventral affective system and the dorsal executive system in PRGs in the affective conditions compared to HCs, suggests facilitation of the dorsal executive system when affective stimuli are present specifically in PRGs.
Abnormal cue reactivity is a central characteristic of addiction, associated with increased activity in motivation, attention and memory related brain circuits. In this neuroimaging study, cue reactivity in problem gamblers (PRG) was compared with cue reactivity in heavy smokers (HSM) and healthy controls (HC). A functional magnetic resonance imaging event-related cue reactivity paradigm, consisting of gambling, smoking-related and neutral pictures, was employed in 17 treatment-seeking non-smoking PRG, 18 non-gambling HSM, and 17 non-gambling and non-smoking HC. Watching gambling pictures (relative to neutral pictures) was associated with higher brain activation in occipitotemporal areas, posterior cingulate cortex, parahippocampal gyrus and amygdala in PRG compared with HC and HSM. Subjective craving in PRG correlated positively with brain activation in left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and left insula. When comparing the HSM group with the two other groups, no significant differences in brain activity induced by smoking cues were found. In a stratified analysis, the HSM subgroup with higher Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence scores (FTND M = 5.4) showed higher brain activation in ventromedial prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, insula and middle/superior temporal gyrus while watching smoking-related pictures (relative to neutral pictures) than the HSM subgroup with lower FTND scores (FTND M = 2.9) and than non-smoking HC. Nicotine craving correlated with activation in left prefrontal and left amygdala when viewing smoking-related pictures in HSM. Increased regional responsiveness to gambling pictures in brain regions linked to motivation and visual processing is present in PRG, similar to neural mechanisms underlying cue reactivity in substance dependence. Increased brain activation in related fronto-limbic brain areas was present in HSM with higher FTND scores compared with HSM with lower FTND scores.
Addiction; cue reactivity; fMRI; impulse control disorder; nicotine dependence; pathological gambling
There is a wealth of evidence showing enhanced attention towards drug-related information (i.e. attentional bias) in substance abusers. However, little is known about attentional bias in deregulated behaviors without substance use such as abnormal gambling. This study examined whether problem gamblers (PrG, as assessed through self-reported gambling-related craving and gambling dependence severity) exhibit attentional bias for gambling-related cues.
Forty PrG and 35 control participants performed a change detection task using the flicker paradigm, in which two images differing in only one aspect are repeatedly flashed on the screen until the participant is able to report the changing item. In our study, the changing item was either neutral or related to gambling. Eye movements were recorded, which made it possible to measure both initial orienting of attention as well as its maintenance on gambling information.
Direct (eye-movements) and indirect (change in detection latency) measures of attention in individuals with problematic gambling behaviors suggested the occurrence of both engagement and of maintenance attentional biases towards gambling-related visual cues. Compared to non-problematic gamblers, PrG exhibited (1) faster reaction times to gambling-cues as compared to neutral cues, (2) higher percentage of initial saccades directed toward gambling pictures; (3) an increased fixation duration and fixation count on gambling pictures. In the PrG group, measures of gambling-related attentional bias were not associated with craving for gambling and gambling dependence severity. Theoretical and clinical implications of these results are discussed.
Gambling; Attentional bias; Dependence; Eye-tracking; Craving
Impulsivity is a hallmark of problem gambling. However, impulsivity is not a unitary construct and this study investigated the relationship between problem gambling severity and two facets of impulsivity: impulsive action (impaired ability to withhold a motor response) and impulsive choice (abnormal aversion for the delay of reward).
The recruitment includes 65 problem gamblers and 35 normal control participants. On the basis of DSM-IV-TR criteria, two groups of gamblers were distinguished: problem gamblers (n = 38) and pathological gamblers (n = 27) with similar durations of gambling practice. Impulsive action was assessed using a response inhibition task (the stop-signal task). Impulsive choice was estimated with the delay-discounting task. Possible confounds (e.g., IQ, mood, ADHD symptoms) were recorded.
Both problem and pathological gamblers discounted reward at a higher rate than their controls, but only pathological gamblers showed abnormally low performance on the most demanding condition of the stop-signal task. None of the potential confounds covaried with these results.
These results suggest that, whereas abnormal impulsive choice characterizes all problem gamblers, pathological gamblers' impairments in impulsive action may represent an important developmental pathway of pathological gambling.
Problem gambling has been proposed to represent a ‘behavioural addiction’ that may provide key insights into vulnerability mechanisms underlying addiction in brains that are not affected by the damaging effects of drugs. Our aim was to investigate the neurocognitive profile of problem gambling in comparison with alcohol dependence. We reasoned that shared deficits across the two conditions may reflect underlying vulnerability mechanisms, whereas impairments specific to alcohol dependence may reflect cumulative effects of alcohol consumption.
Out-patient addiction treatment centres and university behavioural testing facilities.
A naturalistic sample of 21 male problem and pathological gamblers, 21 male alcohol-dependent out-patients and 21 healthy male control participants.
Neurocognitive battery assessing decision-making, impulsivity and working memory.
The problem gamblers and alcohol-dependent groups displayed impairments in risky decision-making and cognitive impulsivity relative to controls. Working memory deficits and slowed deliberation times were specific to the alcohol-dependent group.
Gambling and alcohol-dependent groups shared deficits in tasks linked to ventral prefrontal cortical dysfunction. Tasks loading on dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were selectively impaired in the alcohol-dependent group, presumably as a consequence of long-term alcohol use.
Addiction; alcohol; decision-making; impulsivity; pathological gambling; prefrontal cortex; risk-taking; vulnerability
Identifying situations in which individuals gamble may be important for developing or improving treatments, but few instruments exist for examining high-risk gambling situations. This study evaluated the factor structure of the Inventory of Gambling Situations (IGS), an instrument that assesses situations that may lead to gambling episodes. Individuals seeking alcohol and drug abuse treatment who were identified as problem or pathological gamblers (N = 283) completed the IGS, and principal component analysis revealed a 4-factor solution best fit the data; the factors represented items related to Negative Affect, Positive Affect, Gambling Cues, and Social Situations. Across the whole scale, Cronbach’s alpha was 0.97, ranging from 0.83 to 0.96 for the four factors. IGS total scores correlated with other indices of gambling problems, including number of pathological gambling criteria endorsed and frequency and intensity of gambling. Race, education, and severity of psychiatric, drug and alcohol problems were significantly predictive of some factor scores. Specifically, African Americans were more likely to gamble in response to Negative Affect situations than Caucasians, and education was inversely associated with wagering in response to Gambling Cues. Psychiatric symptoms were predictive of gambling in response to both Positive and Negative Affect situations and Gambling Cues. Severity of drug and alcohol problems were related to gambling in Social Situations. Results from this study indicate that the IGS has good psychometric properties and suggest areas in which intervention efforts may be tailored to prevent or treat gambling problems among individuals seeking substance abuse treatment.
problem gambling pathological gambling; precipitants; substance abuse
Twenty-one treatment-seeking pathological gamblers, 21 pathological gamblers in recovery, and 21 recreational gamblers watched two video-taped exciting gambling scenarios and an exciting roller-coaster control scenario while their arousal (heart rate and subjective excitement) and urge to gamble were being measured. The gamblers did not differ significantly in cue-elicited heart rate elevations or excitement. However, the active pathological gamblers reported significantly greater urges to gamble across all cues compared to the abstinent pathological gamblers and, with marginal significance (p = 0.06), also compared to the social gamblers. Further exploration of these findings revealed that active pathological gamblers experience urges to gamble in response to exciting situations, whether or not they are gambling related, whereas abstinent and social gamblers only report urges to an exciting gambling-related cue. This suggests that for pathological gamblers excitement itself, irrespective of its source, may become a conditioned stimulus capable of triggering gambling behavior. Implications for treatment and future research are discussed.
Pathological gambling; Cue reactivity; Urge; Excitement; Addiction
Legalized gambling is a growing industry, and is probably a factor in the presently increasing prevalence of pathological gambling. We present a case of a 36-year-old pathological gambler who was treated with fluvoxamine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, and who was assessed by functional MRI before and after drug administration. During activation periods, the pathological gambler was shown cards as stimuli, and fMRI results in several brain regions showed differential effects before and after medication and a maintenance period. This case demonstrates that the treatment response to fluvoxamine in a pathological gambler was observed not only by subjective self-report, but also by objective fMRI results. Therefore, fMRI may be a useful tool in the diagnosis and prediction of treatment response in patients afflicted with pathological gambling.
Fluvoxamine; functional MRI; pathological gambling
Pathological gambling (PG) is a form of behavioural addiction that has been associated with elevated impulsivity and also cognitive distortions in the processing of chance, probability and skill. We sought to assess the relationship between the level of cognitive distortions and state and trait measures of impulsivity in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers.
Thirty pathological gamblers attending the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the first National Health Service clinic for gambling problems in the UK, were compared with 30 healthy controls in a case-control design. Cognitive distortions were assessed using the Gambling-Related Cognitions Scale (GRCS). Trait impulsivity was assessed using the UPPS-P, which includes scales of urgency, the tendency to be impulsive in positive or negative mood states. Delay discounting rates were taken as a state measure of impulsive choice.
Pathological gamblers had elevated impulsivity on several UPPS-P subscales but effect sizes were largest (Cohen's d>1.4) for positive and negative urgency. The pathological gamblers also displayed higher levels of gambling distortions, and elevated preference for immediate rewards, compared to controls. Within the pathological gamblers, there was a strong relationship between the preference for immediate rewards and the level of cognitive distortions (R2=0.41).
Impulsive choice in the gamblers was correlated with the level of gambling distortions, and we hypothesize that an impulsive decision-making style may increase the acceptance of erroneous beliefs during gambling play.
Behavioural addiction; decision making; delay discounting; problem gambling; risk taking
The purpose of this study was to compare the socio-demographic characteristics of non-problem gamblers, problem gamblers and pathological gamblers, to investigate the association between gambling related factors and perceived health and well-being among the three subgroups of gamblers, and to analyse simultaneously socio-demographic characteristics, gambling related factors and perceived health and well-being and the severity of disordered gambling (problem gamblers and pathological gamblers).
The data were collected through a nationwide telephone survey in 2011. Participants were selected through a random population sample of 15-74-year-old Finns. From that sample, persons with any past-year gambling involvement (N = 3451) were selected for a subsample for the descriptive and inferential analysis in the present paper. Gambling was assessed using the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Statistical significance was determined by chi-squared tests. The odds ratio and effect size were computed by using multivariate-adjusted multinomial logistic regression analysis.
The most significant socio-demographic characteristics (male gender, young age, education ≤12 years), gambling related factors (slot machine gambling, internet gambling) and perceived health and well-being (feeling lonely, smoking daily, risky alcohol consumption, mental health problems) explained 22.9 per cent of the variation in the severity of disordered gambling.
Male gender and loneliness were found to be associated with problem gambling in particular, along with smoking and risky alcohol consumption. Mental health problems and risky alcohol consumption were associated with pathological gambling. These identified associations between disordered gambling, mental health problems and risky alcohol consumption should be taken into consideration when implementing screenings of disordered gambling.
Disordered gambling; Pathological gambling; Population survey; Problem gambling; Public health; South Oaks Gambling Screen
Our objectives for this report were to identify trajectories of youth gambling behavior, and to examine their relation to executive cognitive function (ECF) and associated problem behaviors. Philadelphia school children, enrolled at ages 10–12 years (n = 387; 49% male), completed three annual assessments of risk behaviors, ECF, impulsivity, problem behaviors and demographics. Across ages 10–15 years, using methods from Nagin et al., two groups were identified: Early Gamblers (n = 111) initiated early and continued in later assessments, and Later Gamblers (n = 276) initiated at later ages and gambled less. Betting money on cards and sports were the most frequently reported gambling behaviors. Using gambling group as outcome, final backward selection logistic regression model showed Early Gamblers are more likely male (P = 0.001), report more active coping (P = 0.042), impulsive behaviors (P ≤ 0.008), and have friends who gamble (P = 0.001). Groups were similar in ECF, parental monitoring, marital status, SES, and race. Early Gamblers had higher incidence of problem behaviors and drug use (all P ≤ 0.006). Two gambling groups were identified in early adolescence with Early Gamblers showing higher levels of impulsivity and comorbid problems but similar levels of ECF compared to Late Gamblers. As more gambling groups are identified through later adolescence, ECF may emerge as a relevant precursor of problem gambling at this later time.
Youth gambling; Trajectories; Executive cognitive function; Impulsivity; Adolescence
Pathological gambling has many similarities to pharmacological addiction. Notably, both pathological gambling and drug addiction are characterized by aberrations in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis responding. As well, there are indications that gender differences may play a role in these processes. Whether gender and/or HPA response are associated with pathological gambling was of interest. Recreational and pathological gamblers (15 men and 6 women per group) had the HPA factor, cortisol, assessed in saliva collected before and after watching a video of their preferred mode of gambling (slot machines, horse race betting, scratch-off tickets, blackjack, video poker, craps, sports betting, online casino games, or lottery tickets), and a video of neutral stimuli (a rollercoaster ride). Basal levels of salivary cortisol did not significantly differ among recreational and pathological gamblers. However, recreational gamblers demonstrated significantly increased salivary cortisol levels after the gambling and rollercoaster videos, whereas pathological gamblers demonstrated no salivary cortisol increase in response to either video stimulus. There was also a non-significant trend for women to have a greater cortisol response to video stimuli compared to men. These data suggest that pathological gambling is associated with hypoactive HPA response to gambling stimuli, similar to chronic drug exposure, and gender may contribute to this effect.
Addiction; Gender Differences; Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis; Pathological Gambling; Problem Gambling; Recreational Gambling
This study examined putative subtypes of pathological gamblers (PGs) based on the Pathways Model, and it also evaluated whether the subtypes would benefit differentially from treatment. Treatment-seeking PGs (N = 229) were categorized into Pathways subtypes based on scores from questionnaires assessing anxiety, depression and impulsivity. The Addiction Severity Index Gambling assessed severity of gambling problems at baseline, post-treatment and 12-month follow-up. Compared with Behaviorally Conditioned (BC) gamblers, Emotionally Vulnerable (EV) gamblers had higher psychiatric and gambling severity, and were more likely to have a parent with a psychiatric history. Antisocial Impulsive (AI) gamblers also had elevated gambling and psychiatric severity relative to BC gamblers. They were more likely to have antisocial personality disorder and had the highest legal and family/social severity scores. They were also most likely to have a history of substance abuse treatment, history of inpatient psychiatric treatment, and a parent with a substance use or gambling problem. AI and EV gamblers experienced greater gambling severity throughout treatment than BC gamblers, but all three subtypes demonstrated similar patterns of treatment response. Thus, the three Pathways subtypes differ based on some baseline characteristics, but subtyping did not predict treatment outcomes beyond a simple association with problem gambling severity.
Pathological gambling; Pathways model; depression; impulsivity; gambling subtype
The authors have cloned a novel member of the PRG family that induces filopodia growth in a Cdc42-independent manner. Hence, studies in primary neurons revealed that PRG5 impedes RhoA-mediated axon collapse induced by LPA and Nogo-A. These data reveal a new function of PRG5 with impact on neurite growth in an axonal growth inhibitory environment.
Members of the plasticity-related gene (PRG1-4) family are brain-specific integral membrane proteins and implicated in neuronal plasticity, such as filopodia formation and axon growth after brain lesion. Here we report on the cloning of a novel member of the PRG family, PRG5, with high homologies to PRG3. PRG5 is regulated during brain and spinal cord development and is exclusively allocated within the nervous system. When introduced in neurons, PRG5 is distributed in the plasma membrane and induces filopodia as well as axon elongation and growth. Conversely, siRNA mediated knockdown of PRG5 impedes axon growth and disturbs filopodia formation. Here we show that PRG5 induces filopodia growth independently of Cdc42. Moreover, axon collapse and RhoA activation induced by LPA and myelin-associated neurite inhibitor Nogo-A is attenuated in the presence of PRG5, although direct activation of the RhoA-Rho-PIP5K kinase pathway abolishes PRG5 -formed neurites. Thus, we describe here the identification of a novel member of the PRG family that induces filopodia and axon elongation in a Cdc42-independent manner. In addition, PRG5 impedes brain injury-associated growth inhibitory signals upstream of the RhoA-Rho kinase pathway.
Research has found that children who have parents with an addiction may be more vulnerable to developing psychopathology compared to children without parental addiction. We compared young adult, recreational gamblers with and without parental addiction on measures of gambling behavior and impulsivity. A total of 286 recreational gamblers (defined as having gambled at least five times in the past 12 months) between the ages of 18 and 29 participated in an initial intake of a longitudinal study assessing susceptibility to pathological gambling. Trained staff interviewed subjects and subjects completed cognitive testing and self-report measures. Fifty-three subjects (18.53%) reported at least one parent with an addiction (including alcohol and substance dependence and pathological gambling). Subjects with at least one addicted parent were significantly more likely to report problems resulting from gambling, have significantly greater rates of psychiatric comorbidity, and report significantly more current marijuana and tobacco use. Subjects with an addicted parent were not significantly different on measures of impulsivity. These findings suggest that even at a stage of low-risk gambling, before what has been considered a psychopathology arises, those with a possible environmental and/or genetic risk of addiction exhibit a range of problematic behaviors.
Pathological Gambling; Psychopathology; Addiction; Family History; Young Adults
Although sleep has been extensively studied in substance related disorders, it has yet to be examined as thoroughly in gambling-related disorders. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between gambling severity and sleep disturbances in a sample of non-treatment seeking gamblers (N = 96) using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS). Mean ESS scores for recreational, problem, and pathological gamblers were 4.13, 5.81, and 8.69, respectively, with a significant difference between pathological gamblers and both problem (P = .007) and recreational gamblers (P < .001). Mean PSQI scores for recreational, problem, and pathological gamblers were 3.35, 5.30, and 5.44, respectively, with a significant difference in sleep quality between recreational and problem gamblers (P = .018), as well as recreational and pathological gamblers (P = .008). As the first study to use objective sleep measures, these findings will not only increase awareness of this relationship, but also provide a foundation on which others can investigate the benefits of screening and adjunct treatment for sleep disorders in the gambling population.
Gambling; sleep; insomnia; daytime sleepiness; Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; Epworth Sleepiness Scale
Repetition suppression (RS) is a rapid decrease of stimulus-related neuronal responses upon repeated presentation of a stimulus. Previous studies have demonstrated that negative emotional salience of stimuli enhances RS. It is, however, unclear how motivational salience of stimuli, such as reward-predicting value, influences RS for complex visual stimuli, and which brain regions might show differences in RS for reward-predicting and neutral stimuli. Here we investigated the influence of motivational salience on RS of complex scenes using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging. Thirty young healthy volunteers performed a monetary incentive delay task with complex scenes (indoor vs. outdoor) serving as neutral or reward-predicting cue pictures. Each cue picture was presented three times. In line with previous findings, reward anticipation was associated with activations in the ventral striatum, midbrain, and orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). Stimulus repetition was associated with pronounced RS in ventral visual stream areas like the parahippocampal place area (PPA). An interaction of reward anticipation and RS was specifically observed in the anterior hippocampus, where a response decrease across repetitions was observed for the reward-predicting scenes only. Functional connectivity analysis further revealed specific activity-dependent connectivity increases of the hippocampus and the PPA and OFC. Our results suggest that hippocampal RS is sensitive to reward-predicting properties of stimuli and might therefore reflect a rapid, adaptive neural response mechanism for motivationally salient information.
reward; repetition suppression; priming; hippocampus; fMRI
The characteristics of Asian American and white problem gamblers using a gambling helpline were examined to identify race-related differences.
Logistic regression analyses were conducted on data obtained from callers to a gambling helpline serving Southern New England in 2000–2003, inclusive.
Of the 144 phone calls used in the analyses, 72 were from Asian American callers and 72 were from white callers who were matched on gender, education, income, marital/cohabitation status, and age. Race-related differences were observed in forms of gambling problems, psychiatric problems secondary to gambling, substance use problems, and family history. Asian American gamblers were more likely to report suicide attempts related to gambling and problems with non-strategic gambling. White gamblers were more likely to report both casino and non-casino gambling problems and personal and familial alcohol use problems. High proportions of both groups reported problems with strategic gambling, gambling-related anxiety, family and financial problems secondary to gambling, financial debt, daily tobacco use, and a family history of problem gambling.
Race-related differences should be considered in optimizing prevention and treatment strategies related to problem gambling.
An illusion of control is said to occur when a person believes that he or she controls an outcome that is uncontrollable. Pathological gambling has often been related to an illusion of control, but the assessment of the illusion has generally used introspective methods in domain-specific (i.e., gambling) situations. The illusion of control of pathological gamblers, however, could be a more general problem, affecting other aspects of their daily life. Thus, we tested them using a standard associative learning task which is known to produce illusions of control in most people under certain conditions. The results showed that the illusion was significantly stronger in pathological gamblers than in a control undiagnosed sample. This suggests (1) that the experimental tasks used in basic associative learning research could be used to detect illusions of control in gamblers in a more indirect way, as compared to introspective and domain-specific questionnaires; and (2), that in addition to gambling-specific problems, pathological gamblers may have a higher-than-normal illusion of control in their daily life.
gambling; illusion of control; associative learning; contingency learning; contingency judgments; causal learning
The integrity of decision-making under emotionally evocative circumstances is critical to navigating complex environments, and dysfunctions in these processes may play an important role in the emergence and maintenance of various psychopathologies. The goal of the present study was to examine the spatial and temporal dynamics of neural responses to emotional stimuli and emotion-modulated response inhibition. High-density event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were measured as participants (N = 25) performed an emotional Go/NoGo task that required button presses to words of a “target” emotional valence (i.e., positive, negative, neutral) and response inhibition to words of a different “distractor” valence. Using scalp ERP analyses in conjunction with source-localization techniques, we identified distinct neural responses associated with affective salience and affect-modulated response inhibition, respectively. Both earlier (~300 ms) and later (~700 ms) ERP components were enhanced with successful response inhibition to emotional distractors. Only ERPs to target stimuli differentiated affective from neutral cues. Moreover, source localization analyses revealed right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) activation in affective response inhibition regardless of emotional valence, whereas rostral anterior cingulate activation (rACC) was potentiated by emotional valence but was not modulated by response inhibition. This dissociation was supported by a significant Region × Trial Type × Emotion interaction, confirming that distinct regional dynamics characterize neural responses to affective valence and affective response-inhibition. The results are discussed in the context of an emerging affective neuroscience literature and implications for understanding psychiatric pathologies characterized by a detrimental susceptibility to emotional cues, with an emphasis on major depressive disorder.
emotion; response inhibition; anterior cingulate; inferior frontal gyrus; vmPFC; ERP; source localization; implications for depression
This study assessed rates and correlates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in individuals seeking treatment for pathological gambling. At intake to gambling treatment programs, 342 pathological gamblers completed the Addiction Severity Index and the South Oaks Gambling Screen. Participants were categorized into three groups: no suicidal ideation (N = 175, 51%), suicidal ideation alone (N = 109, 32%), and suicide attempters (N = 58, 17%). After controlling for gender, age, treatment site, and substance abuse treatment histories, differences among the groups emerged in terms of severity of psychiatric, social/family, and gambling problems. Compared with nonsuicidal gamblers, those with suicidal ideation suffered from more psychiatric symptoms, were less satisfied with their living situations, and experienced more days of conflict in the month before entering gambling treatment. Compared with pathological gamblers with no history of suicidal ideation, those with suicidal ideation spent more money gambling in the month before entering treatment, reported greater cravings for gambling, and had higher South Oaks Gambling Screen scores. These data confirm other reports of high rates of suicidality in pathological gamblers and may suggest the need for more intensive and focused treatments in pathological gamblers with suicidality.
Depression and impulsivity have been positively correlated to problem gambling, but no study has focused on the combined effects of both on the onset of problem gambling. This study examined the possible synergistic effect of depressive symptoms and impulsivity in early adolescence on late adolescence gambling behaviors among a longitudinal cohort of 678 students from Baltimore, MD.
The South Oaks Gambling Screen-Revised for Adolescents (SOGS-RA), Teacher Observation of Classroom Adaptation Revised (TOCA-R), and Baltimore How I Feel-Adolescent Version (BHIF-AY), were used to assess late adolescence gambling behaviors, early adolescence impulsivity and depressive symptoms, respectively. Data analyses were conducted using ANOVA and binary logistic regression models.
Twelve percent of the sample were problem gamblers (includes at-risk and problem gamblers), 87.5% of whom were males and 12.5% were females (p<0.001). Among males, there appeared to be a slight association between early adolescence depressive symptoms and late adolescence problem gambling. Compared to nongambling (NG) and social gambling (SG), depressive symptoms increased the odds of problem gambling by four-fold (PG vs. NG: OR=4.1, 95% CI=0.73–22.47, p=0.11; PG vs. SG: OR=3.9, 95% CI=0.78–19.31, p=0.10). Among those with high depressive symptoms, increases in impulsivity decreased the odds of problem gambling while among those with high impulsivity, increases in depressive symptoms decreased the odds of problem gambling.
Early adolescence depressive symptoms appear to be more positively associated with late adolescence problem gambling than early adolescence impulsivity, there seems to be a divisive interaction between depressive symptoms and impulsivity on problem gambling.
Depressive symptoms; Impulsivity; Problem gambling; Early Adolescence; Late Adolescence
Plasticity related gene-1 (PRG-1) is a brain-specific membrane protein related to lipid phosphate phosphatases, which acts in the hippocampus specifically at the excitatory synapse terminating on glutamatergic neurons. Deletion of prg-1 in mice leads to epileptic seizures and augmentation of EPSCs, but not IPSCs. In utero electroporation of PRG-1 into deficient animals revealed that PRG-1 modulates excitation at the synaptic junction. Mutation of the extracellular domain of PRG-1 crucial for its interaction with lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) abolished the ability to prevent hyperexcitability. As LPA application in vitro induced hyperexcitability in wild-type but not in LPA2 receptor-deficient animals, and uptake of phospholipids is reduced in PRG-1-deficient neurons, we assessed PRG-1/LPA2 receptor-deficient animals, and found that the pathophysiology observed in the PRG-1-deficient mice was fully reverted. Thus, we propose PRG-1 as an important player in the modulatory control of hippocampal excitability dependent on presynaptic LPA2 receptor signaling.
Rationale and Objectives
There is evidence that drug addiction is associated with increased physiological and psychological responses to stress. In this pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study we assessed whether a prototype behavioral addiction, pathological gambling (PG), is likewise associated with an enhanced response to stress.
We induced stress by injecting yohimbine (0.2–0.3 mg/kg, IV), an alpha-2 adrenoceptor antagonist that elicits stress-like physiological and psychological effects in humans and in laboratory animals, to four subjects with PG and to five non-gamblers mentally healthy control subjects. Their fMRI brain responses were assessed along with subjective stress and gambling urges ratings.
Voxelwise analyses of data sets from individual subjects, utilizing generalized linear model approach, revealed significant left amygdala activation in response to yohimbine across all PG subjects. This amygdala effect was not observed in the five control individuals. Yohimbine elicited subjective stress ratings in both groups with greater (albeit not statically significantly) average response in the PG subjects. On the other hand, yohimbine did not induce urges to gamble.
The present data support the hypothesis of brain sensitization to pharmacologically-induced stress in PG.
Personalized feedback is a promising self-help for problem gamblers. Such interventions have shown consistently positive results with other addictive behaviours, and our own pilot test of personalized normative feedback materials for gamblers yielded positive findings. The current randomized controlled trial evaluated the effectiveness, and the sustained efficacy, of the personalized feedback intervention materials for problem gamblers.
Respondents recruited by a general population telephone screener of Ontario adults included gamblers with moderate and severe gambling problems. Those who agreed to participate were randomly assigned to receive: 1) the full personalized normative feedback intervention; 2) a partial feedback that contained all the feedback information provided to those in condition 1 but without the normative feedback content (i.e., no comparisons provided to general population gambling norms); or 3) a waiting list control condition. The primary hypothesis was that problem gamblers who received the personalized normative feedback intervention would reduce their gambling more than problem gamblers who did not receive any intervention (waiting list control condition) by the six-month follow-up.
The study found no evidence for the impact of normative personalized feedback. However, participants who received, the partial feedback (without norms) reduced the number of days they gambled compared to participants who did not receive the intervention. We concluded that personalized feedback interventions were well received and the materials may be helpful at reducing gambling. Realistically, it can be expected that the personalized feedback intervention may have a limited, short term impact on the severity of participants' problem gambling because the intervention is just a brief screener. An Internet-based version of the personalized feedback intervention tool, however, may offer an easy to access and non-threatening portal that can be used to motivate participants to seek further help online or in person.