Cue-Induced Brain Activity in Pathological Gamblers
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AbstractPrevious studies using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) have identified differential brain activity in healthy subjects performing gambling tasks and pathological gambling (PG) subjects with motivational and emotional predecessors for gambling and during tasks requiring response inhibition. The goal of the present study was to determine if PG subjects exhibit differential brain activity when exposed to visual gambling cues. Methods: 10 male DSM-IV-TR PG subjects and 10 matched healthy controls underwent fMRI during visual presentations of gambling-related video alternating with video of nature scenes. Results: PG subjects and controls exhibited overlap in areas of brain activity in response to the visual gambling cues; however, compared to control subjects, PG subjects exhibited significantly greater activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), including the inferior and medial frontal gyri, the right parahippocampal gyrus, and left occipital cortex, including the fusiform gyrus. PG subjects also reported a significant increase in mean craving for gambling after the study. Post-hoc analyses revealed a dissociation in visual processing stream (dorsal vs. ventral) activation by subject group and cue type. Conclusions: These findings may represent a component of cue-induced craving for gambling or conditioned behavior that could underlie pathological gambling.
SponsorshipThe project was supported by a grant from the Alberta Gaming Research Institute.
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