Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Science of the Brain Problem

If one were to google 'gambling dopamine' or 'gambling neurotransmitters' or 'gambling MRI'...etc.....there is a wealth of information regarding the physiology of gambling...scientists aren't sure what it all means...but there is no question that physical changes are taking place in the brain when we gamble.

Here is an interesting article that also compares MRI's of pathological gamblers and healthy controls during gambling scenarios.

How dopamine is affected when one gambles...and why some become addicted...

a snippet from that page:

Several studies have been conducted which targeted neural response to rewards. The results were unanimous in the fact that when one performed an action over and over again, and was given a reward randomly, dopamine levels rose. If the reward was given consistently, i.e. every four time the action was performed, the dopamine levels remained constant. Finally, if no reward was given dopamine levels dropped (4). These same random rewards can be seen in gambling. Because the outcome is based on chance, one does not know prior if he or she will win. Therefore, if the person one wins, dopamine levels increase (4). However, unlike cocaine, gambling causes addiction in only 4% of participants. This is due to the fact that Cocaine's chemical input is much more influential on dopamine levels than gambling's behavioral input. Therefore, only people whose dopamine levels are low, become addicted to gambling (5).

Studies also show that Pathological Gamblers demonstrate Frontal Lobe Impairment.

They don't know if this was a pre-existing condition that contributed to the gambling problem or if this 'damage' is the result of it.

There also seems to be a link between ADHD and problem gamblers...

there are many articles on this....I found this one very interesting:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for these references. I had begun to piece the neurochemical picture together anyway but these articles have affirmed the work done so far. I am one of those people who were prescribed dopamine agonists for another neurological condition and were blind-sided by the side effects of increased dopamine. I am beginning to think this awful experience has been karma from past lives!!!! I had never gambled before taking these medications.

The issue of depression and trauma is also relevant to me, however, and I think this weird combination of factors contributed to what happened to me. The question now is 'How do I stop it?'