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
The neurobehavioral underpinnings of pathological gambling are not well understood. Insight might be gained by understanding pharmacological effects on the reward system in patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Treatment with dopamine agonists (DAs) has been associated with pathological gambling in PD patients. However, how DAs are involved in the development of this form of addiction is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that tonic stimulation of dopamine receptors specifically desensitizes the dopaminergic reward system by preventing decreases in dopaminergic transmission that occurs with negative feedback. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we studied PD patients during three sessions of a probabilistic reward task in random order: off medication, after levodopa (LD) treatment, and after an equivalent dose of DA (pramipexole). For each trial, a reward prediction error value was computed using outcome, stake, and probability. Pramipexole specifically changed activity of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in two ways that were both associated with increased risk taking in an out-of-magnet task. Outcome-induced activations were generally higher with pramipexole compared with LD or off medication. In addition, only pramipexole greatly diminished trial-by-trial correlation with reward prediction error values. Further analysis yielded that this resulted mainly from impaired deactivation in trials with negative errors in reward prediction. We propose that DAs prevent pauses in dopamine transmission and thereby impair the negative reinforcing effect of losing. Our findings raise the question of whether pathological gambling may in part stem from an impaired capacity of the OFC to guide behavior when facing negative consequences.
PMID: 19741594 CAMSID: cams1534
fMRI; impulse control disorder; dopamine agonist; reward; addiction; reinforcement
We describe a patient with advanced Parkinson's disease who developed pathological gambling within a month after successful bilateral subthalamic nucleus (STN) stimulation. There was no history of gambling. On neuropsychological testing, slight cognitive decline was evident 1 year after surgery. Stimulation of the most dorsal contact with and without medication induced worse performances on decision making tests compared with the more ventral contact. Pathological gambling disappeared after discontinuation of pergolide and changing the stimulation parameters. Pathological gambling does not seem to be associated with decision making but appears to be related to a combination of bilateral STN stimulation and treatment with dopamine agonists.
Several studies have related pathological gambling in PD to dopamine agonist therapy. A mail-in survey was sent to PD patients seen at the University of Florida Movement Disorders Center to determine gambling frequency and behavior, and any lifestyle or environmental factors associated with compulsive gambling in PD. 462 surveys were sent and 127 completed surveys were returned, of which ten were from patients who met criteria for compulsive gambling. All ten were taking dopamine agonists coincident with the compulsive gambling. Compulsive gamblers were younger, and psychological distress measures revealed that compulsive gamblers exhibited higher levels of anxiety, anger, and confusion. Thus in this cohort, we have uncovered the several characteristics of the most likely PD compulsive gambler, namely: (young) age, “angry”, “anxious”, and using a (dopamine) agonist.
Parkinson; gambling; compulsive behavior; dopamine agonist; anxiety
Pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder reported in association with dopamine agonists used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Although impulse control disorders are conceptualized as lying within the spectrum of addictions, little neurobiological evidence exists to support this belief. Functional imaging studies have consistently demonstrated abnormalities of dopaminergic function in patients with drug addictions, but to date no study has specifically evaluated dopaminergic function in Parkinson’s disease patients with impulse control disorders. We describe results of a [11C] raclopride positron emission tomography (PET) study comparing dopaminergic function during gambling in Parkinson’s disease patients, with and without pathological gambling, following dopamine agonists. Patients with pathological gambling demonstrated greater decreases in binding potential in the ventral striatum during gambling (13.9%) than control patients (8.1%), likely reflecting greater dopaminergic release. Ventral striatal bindings at baseline during control task were also lower in patients with pathological gambling. Although prior imaging studies suggest that abnormality in dopaminergic binding and dopamine release may be markers of vulnerability to addiction, this study presents the first evidence of these phenomena in pathological gambling. The emergence of pathological gambling in a number of Parkinson’s disease patients may provide a model into the pathophysiology of this disorder.
PMID: 19346328 CAMSID: cams2369
Parkinson’s disease; dopamine; impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; PET; functional imaging
The present investigation examined a behavior-analytic clinical treatment package designed to reduce the pathological gambling of 3 individuals with acquired brain injury. A prior history of pathological gambling of each patient was assessed via caregiver report, psychological testing, and direct observation of gambling behavior. Using an 8-week one-on-one client–patient format, a treatment program was developed in which the patient learned about the antecedents, consequences, and motivating operations that controlled the emission of gambling behavior. Data were collected on both self-report of gambling urges and behavior following therapy and during in situ gambling opportunities. The therapy program reduced urges to gamble and actual gambling for all patients. The potential of behavior-analytic therapy for reducing the pathological gambling of patients with and without brain injury is discussed.
gambling therapy; impulsivity; brain injury; cognitive behavior therapy
A 55-year-old male with idiopathic Parkinson's disease developed three behavioral changes under combination therapy with selegiline, cabergoline and levodopa. Co-existent behaviors included severe pathological gambling, punding and novel skills in writing poetry (published poetry books). Brain [18F]fluorodopa PET imaging showed decreased tracer uptake in the striatum contralateral to the predominant motor symptoms, consistent with the clinical diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Uptake in the ventral striatum was markedly high. Brain MRI before and after behavioral changes showed no pathological findings. The patient was diagnosed as having Parkinson's disease together with DSM-IV criteria-fulfilling pathological gambling and punding-like stereotyped behavior. There are no established criteria for the classification of emerged artistic creativity, although there are descriptions of the phenomenon in the literature. Inspired by the case, we conducted a preliminary survey – including 290 patients with Parkinson's disease – exploring the possible relationship between creativity and impulsive-compulsive behaviors. The case, supported by the results of the survey, adds to the cumulative evidence of the association between dopaminergic medication and enhanced creativity, and suggests a possible linkage between increased artistic creativity and impulsive-compulsive behaviors in Parkinson's disease. Furthermore, it could be speculated that the high mesolimbic dopamine function might relate to the behavioral changes observed in this patient, and is suggestive of the overlapping neurobiological mechanisms of compulsive behaviors and artistic creativity.
Parkinson's disease; Impulse control disorder; Gambling; Punding; Mesolimbic; Dopamine; Ventral striatum; Creativity
Recent studies have suggested that the brain circuitry mediating cue induced desire for video games is similar to that elicited by cues related to drugs and alcohol. We hypothesized that desire for internet video games during cue presentation would activate similar brain regions to those which have been linked with craving for drugs or pathological gambling.
This study involved the acquisition of diagnostic MRI and fMRI data from 19 healthy male adults (ages 18–23 years) following training and a standardized 10-day period of game play with a specified novel internet video game, “War Rock” (K-network®). Using segments of videotape consisting of five contiguous 90-second segments of alternating resting, matched control and video game-related scenes, desire to play the game was assessed using a seven point visual analogue scale before and after presentation of the videotape.
In responding to internet video game stimuli, compared to neutral control stimuli, significantly greater activity was identified in left inferior frontal gyrus, left parahippocampal gyrus, right and left parietal lobe, right and left thalamus, and right cerebellum (FDR <0.05, p<0.009243). Self-reported desire was positively correlated with the beta values of left inferior frontal gyrus, left parahippocampal gyrus, and right and left thalamus. Compared to the general players, members who played more internet video game (MIGP) cohort showed significantly greater activity in right medial frontal lobe, right and left frontal pre-central gyrus, right parietal post-central gyrus, right parahippocampal gyrus, and left parietal precuneus gyrus. Controlling for total game time, reported desire for the internet video game in the MIGP cohort was positively correlated with activation in right medial frontal lobe and right parahippocampal gyrus.
The present findings suggest that cue-induced activation to internet video game stimuli may be similar to that observed during cue presentation in persons with substance dependence or pathological gambling. In particular, cues appear to commonly elicit activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal, orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and thalamus.
internet video game play; functional MRI; frontal cortex; parahippocampal gyrus; thalamus
Impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling (PG) are a serious and common adverse effect of dopamine (DA) replacement medication in Parkinson’s disease (PD). Patients with PG have increased impulsivity and abnormalities in striatal DA, in common with behavioural and substance addictions in the non-PD population. To date, no studies have investigated the role of extrastriatal dopaminergic abnormalities in PD patients with PG. We used the PET radiotracer, [11C] FLB-457, with high-affinity for extrastriatal DA D2/3 receptors. 14 PD patients on DA agonists were imaged while they performed a gambling task involving real monetary reward and a control task. Trait impulsivity was measured with the Barratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS). Seven of the patients had a history of PG that developed subsequent to DA agonist medication. Change in [11C] FLB-457 binding potential (BP) during gambling was reduced in PD with PG patients in the midbrain, where D2/D3 receptors are dominated by autoreceptors. The degree of change in [11C] FLB-457 binding in this region correlated with impulsivity. In the cortex, [11C] FLB-457 BP was significantly greater in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in PD patients with PG during the control task, and binding in this region was also correlated with impulsivity. Our findings provide the first evidence that PD patients with PG have dysfunctional activation of DA autoreceptors in the midbrain and low DA tone in the ACC. Thus, altered striatal and cortical DA homeostasis may incur vulnerability for the development of PG in PD, linked with the impulsive personality trait.
PMID: 22766031 CAMSID: cams2373
Parkinson’s disease; Dopamine agonists; Pathological gambling; Impulsivity
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
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
As a behavioral addiction with clinical and phenomenological similarities to substance addiction, recreational and pathological gambling represent models for studying the neurobiology of addiction, without the confounding deleterious brain effects which may occur from chronic substance abuse.
A community sample of individuals aged 18–65 years who gamble was solicited through newspaper advertising. Subjects were grouped a priori into three groups (no-risk, at-risk, and pathological gamblers) based on a diagnostic interview. All subjects underwent a psychiatric clinical interview and neurocognitive tests assessing motor impulsivity and cognitive flexibility. Subjects with a current axis I disorder, history of brain injury/trauma, or implementation or dose changes of psychoactive medication within 6 weeks of study enrollment were excluded.
A total of 135 no-risk, 69 at-risk and 46 pathological gambling subjects were assessed. Pathological gamblers were significantly older, and exhibited significant deficiencies in motor impulse control (stop-signal reaction times), response speed (median ‘go’ trial response latency) and cognitive flexibility [total intra-dimensional/extra-dimensional (IDED) errors] versus controls. The finding of impaired impulse control and cognitive flexibility was robust in an age-matched subgroup analysis of pathological gamblers. The no-risk and at-risk gambling groups did not significantly differ from each other on task performance.
Impaired response inhibition and cognitive flexibility exist in people with pathological gambling compared with no-risk and at-risk gamblers. The early identification of such illness in adolescence or young adulthood may aid in the prevention of addiction onset of such disabling disorders.
Cognition; gambling; impulsivity
Although prior studies have examined various clinical characteristics of pathological gambling (PG), limited data exist regarding the clinical correlates of PG based on preferred forms of gambling.
We grouped patients meeting DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling into 3 categories of preferred forms of gambling: strategic (eg, cards, dice, sports betting, stock market), nonstrategic (eg, slots, video poker, pull tabs), or both. We then compared the groups’ clinical characteristics, gambling severity (using the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Pathological Gambling, the Clinical Global Impression–Severity scale, and time and money spent gambling) and psychiatric comorbidity.
The 440 patients included in this sample (54.1% females; mean age 47.69 ± 11.36 years) comprised the following groups: strategic (n = 56; 12.7%), nonstrategic (n = 200; 45.5%), or both (n = 184; 41.8%). Nonstrategic gamblers were significantly more likely to be older and female. Money spent gambling, frequency of gambling, gambling severity, and comorbid disorders did not differ significantly among groups.
These preliminary results suggest that preferred form of gambling may be associated with certain age groups and sexes but is not associated with any specific clinical differences.
impulse control disorders; pathological gambling; phenomenology
Gambling is a widespread form of entertainment that may afford unique insights into the interaction between cognition and emotion in human decision-making. It is also a behaviour that can become harmful, and potentially addictive, in a minority of individuals. This article considers the status of two dominant approaches to gambling behaviour. The cognitive approach has identified a number of erroneous beliefs held by gamblers, which cause them to over-estimate their chances of winning. The psychobiological approach has examined case-control differences between groups of pathological gamblers and healthy controls, and has identified dysregulation of brain areas linked to reward and emotion, including the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and striatum, as well as alterations in dopamine neurotransmission. In integrating these two approaches, recent data are discussed that reveal anomalous recruitment of the brain reward system (including the vmPFC and ventral striatum) during two common cognitive distortions in gambling games: the near-miss effect and the effect of personal control. In games of chance, near-misses and the presence of control have no objective influence on the likelihood of winning. These manipulations appear to harness a reward system that evolved to learn skill-oriented behaviours, and by modulating activity in this system, these cognitive distortions may promote continued, and potentially excessive, gambling.
gambling; addiction; risk; reward; cognition; emotion
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
Nineteen treatment-seeking men meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling and 19 demographic-matched controls participated. Participants provided demographic information, information about their recent drug-use and gambling activities, and biological samples (to confirm drug abstinence). They also completed the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), and two questionnaires designed to separately quantify probability and delay discounting. Pathological gamblers discounted probabilistic rewards significantly less steeply than matched controls. A significant correlation revealed that more shallow probability discounting was associated with higher SOGS scores. Across groups, there was no significant difference in delay discounting, although this difference approached significance when education and ethnicity were included as covariates. These findings, collected for the first time with pathological gamblers, are consistent with previous reports that problem-gambling college students discount probabilistic rewards less steeply than controls. The nature of the relation between probability discounting and severity of problem gambling is deserving of further study.
probability discounting; pathological gambling; delay discounting; SOGS
Gambling is a common recreational activity that becomes dysfunctional in a subset of individuals, with DSM ‘pathological gambling’ regarded as the most severe form. During gambling, players experience a range of cognitive distortions that promote an over-estimation of the chances of winning. Near-miss outcomes are thought to fuel these distortions. We observed previously that near-misses recruited overlapping circuitry to monetary wins in a study in healthy volunteers (Clark et al. 2009). The present study sought to extend these observations in regular gamblers and relate brain responses to an index of gambling severity. Twenty regular gamblers, who varied in their involvement from recreational players to probable pathological gamblers, were scanned whilst performing a simplified slot-machine task that delivered occasional monetary wins, as well as near-miss and full-miss non-win outcomes. In the overall group, near-miss outcomes were associated with a significant response in the ventral striatum, which was also recruited by monetary wins. Gambling severity, measured with the South Oaks Gambling Screen, predicted a greater response in the dopaminergic midbrain to near-miss outcomes. This effect survived controlling for clinical co-morbidities that were present in the regular gamblers. Gambling severity did not predict win-related responses in the midbrain or elsewhere. These results demonstrate that near-miss events during gambling recruit reward-related brain circuitry in regular players. An association with gambling severity in the midbrain suggests that near-miss outcomes may enhance dopamine transmission in disordered gambling, which extends neurobiological similarities between pathological gambling and drug addiction.
Gambling; Cognitive; Addiction; Dopamine; Striatum; Midbrain
OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency of new-onset compulsive gambling or hypersexuality among regional patients with Parkinson disease (PD), ascertaining the relationship of these behaviors to PD drug use.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients from 7 rural southeastern Minnesota counties who had at least 1 neurology appointment for PD between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2006. The main outcome measure was compulsive gambling or hypersexuality developing after parkinsonism onset, including the temporal relationship to PD drug use.
RESULTS: Of 267 patients with PD who met the study inclusion criteria, new-onset gambling or hypersexuality was documented in 7 (2.6%). All were among the 66 patients (10.6%) taking a dopamine agonist. Moreover, all 7 (18.4%) were among 38 patients taking therapeutic doses (defined as ≥2 mg of pramipexole or 6 mg of ropinirole daily). Behaviors were clearly pathologic and disabling in 5: 7.6% of all patients taking an agonist and 13.2% of those taking therapeutic doses. Of the 5 patients, 2 had extensive treatment for what was considered a primary psychiatric problem before the agonist connection was recognized.
CONCLUSION: Among the study patients with PD, new-onset compulsive gambling or hypersexuality was documented in 7 (18.4%) of 38 patients taking therapeutic doses of dopamine agonists but was not found among untreated patients, those taking subtherapeutic agonist doses, or those taking carbidopa/levodopa alone. Behaviors abated with discontinuation of agonist therapy or dose reduction. Because this is a retrospective study, cases may have been missed, and hence this study may reflect an underestimation of the true frequency. Physicians who care for patients taking these drugs should recognize the drug's potential to induce pathologic syndromes that sometimes masquerade as primary psychiatric disease.
In patients with Parkinson disease, new-onset compulsive gambling or hypersexuality was documented in 7 of 38 patients taking therapeutic doses of dopamine agonists but was not found among untreated patients, those taking subtherapeutic agonist doses, or those taking carbidopa/levodopa alone.
Researchers and public health officials in Canada, the United States and Australia have for some time noted broader geographic accessibility to gambling establishments, above all in socioeconomically underprivileged communities. This increase in availability could lead to more and more gambling problems. This article focuses, in an ecological perspective, in particular on a spatial analysis of the geographic accessibility of sites possessing a VLT permit in the Montréal area, i.e. Montréal Island, the South Shore and Laval, from the standpoint of the development of an indicator of the vulnerability (socioeconomic components and demographic components) to gambling of populations at the level of certain neighbourhood units (dissemination areas). With the recent development of geographic information systems (GIS), it is now possible to ascertain accessibility to services much more accurately, for example by taking into account the configuration of the road network.
The findings of our analysis reveal widespread geographic accessibility to sites possessing a VLT permit in the downtown area and in pericentral districts. In some neighbourhood units, a site possessing a VLT permit may be within a three-minute walk. In the region studied overall, average walking time to a VLT site is nine minutes. Access to this type of service on foot is usually limited in the outskirts. However, a number of groups of sites possessing VLT permits are found along certain axial highways. According to local spatial self-correlation analyses, the findings suggest a significant link between walking accessibility to sites possessing VLT permits and the vulnerability of the communities. In a number of neighbourhood units with ready access to VLT's the populations display high vulnerability.
These findings reveal that accessibility to sites possessing a VLT permit is often linked to the vulnerability (socioeconomic and demographic components) of communities. Reliance in our analyses on neighbourhood units with fairly small areas enabled us to emphasize the rectilinear dimension of the spatial distribution of sites possessing VLT permits. This is a significant link that public health officials must consider when elaborating programs to combat pathological gambling.
Dopamine depletion in Parkinson's disease (PD) alters the neuronal activity in basal ganglia circuits. Characterizing these changes in network activity is an important step in understanding the disease and how therapies mitigate symptoms. Non-linear analysis methods can complement the traditional description of neuronal firing characteristics. Here we examine the entropy of subthalamic neurons in PD patients undergoing stereotactic surgery for deep brain stimulation (DBS). The activity of 8 neurons was recorded prior to, during, and following systemic administration of the dopamine agonist apomorphine at clinically effective doses. Apomorphine induced a decrease in entropy measured in the inter-spike intervals of subthalamic neurons in 6 of the 8 neurons. This is the first report that anti-parkinsonian drugs affect non-linear features of neuronal firing in the basal ganglia of parkinsonian patients.
nonlinear; firing pattern; interspike interval
Pathological gamblers (PG), because of their high level of stress, depression, and alcohol or nicotine consumption may be overexposed to coronary heart disease (CHD). To test this association, we assessed pathological gambling (DSM-IV-TR criteria and South Oaks Gambling Screen scale) among 73 patients hospitalized in cardiology for CHD and 61 in-patients from the same department hospitalized for a non-coronary disorder. We found six cases of PG (8.2%) and one case of problem gambling in the CHD group versus no case in the non-coronary group (p = 0.01). Pathological gambling was not associated to a higher level of alcohol or nicotine consumption neither to a higher level of sensation-seeking.
gambling; coronary heart disease; alcohol; nicotine; stress
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.
Despite the high co-occurrence of alcohol consumption and gambling, few studies have investigated alcohol use changes during gambling treatment. Using latent growth modeling, we examined weekly alcohol use trajectories of treatment-seeking pathological gamblers across 36 weeks, allowing rates of change to differ across the 12-week pre-treatment, during treatment, and post-treatment periods. For these secondary data analyses, we retained drinking gamblers (N = 163) from a combined sample of two randomized clinical trials for the treatment of pathological gambling. Results indicated a decrease in alcohol use corresponding with treatment entry and maintenance of less drinking during treatment and post-treatment. Despite these decreases in alcohol use overall, 31% (50 of 163) of participants exhibited risky drinking during the treatment or post-treatment periods. Gender, age, at-risk drinking (at any point in the 36-week interval), baseline gambling severity, treatment condition, and gambling during treatment predicted latent alcohol use growth factors. Although entry into gambling treatment was temporally associated with reductions in alcohol use in this retrospective analysis, a substantial portion of the sample exhibited at-risk drinking after treatment entry, suggesting that interventions targeting reductions in alcohol use may be useful for this population.
Pathological gambling; treatment; alcohol use; at-risk drinking
The present study demonstrated the relative impact of gambling and nongambling contexts on the degree of delay discounting by pathological gamblers. We used a delay-discounting task with 20 pathological gamblers in and out of the natural context in which they regularly gambled. For 16 of the 20 participants, it appeared that the difference of context altered the subjective value of delayed rewards, thereby producing relative changes in delay-discounting rates that were generally consistent with a hyperbolic model of intertemporal choice. The current data suggest that empirically derived k values from delay-discounting tasks are context sensitive and are not constant across various settings for the individual. Implications for future transitional research on addictive disorders generally, and gambling specifically, are discussed.
choice; self-control; impulsivity; delay discounting; establishing operation; gambling
Clinical reports, primarily with Parkinson’s patients, note an association between the prescribed use of pramipexole (and other direct-acting dopamine agonist medications) and impulse control disorders, particularly pathological gambling. Two experiments examined the effects of acute pramipexole on rats’ impulsive choices where impulsivity was defined as selecting a smaller-sooner over a larger-later food reward. In Experiment 1, pramipexole (0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg) significantly increased impulsive choices in a condition in which few impulsive choices were made during a stable baseline. In a control condition, in which impulsive choices predominated during baseline, pramipexole did not significantly change the same rats’ choices. Experiment 2 explored a wider range of doses (0.01 to 0.3 mg/kg) using a choice procedure in which delays to the larger-later reinforcer delivery increased across trial blocks within each session. At the doses used in Experiment 1, pramipexole shifted choice toward indifference regardless of the operative delay. At lower doses of pramipexole (0.01 & 0.03 mg/kg), a trend toward more impulsive choice was observed at the 0.03 mg/kg dose. The difference in outcomes across experiments may be due to the more complex discriminations required in Experiment 2; i.e., multiple discriminations between changing delays within each session.
Pramipexole; D2/D3 agonist; Impulsivity; Choice; Gambling