Latest Volume Of The NCRG’s Monograph Series Focuses On Gambling And The Brain

Aug 24, 2011

WASHINGTON–The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) today released the sixth volume ofIncreasing the Odds: A Series Dedicated to Understanding Gambling Disorders,which examines seminal neuroscience research on gambling disorders. The NCRG’s monograph series provides easy-to-understand summaries of influential peer-reviewed research on gambling disorders, as well as implications for future research and prevention efforts.

‘Researchers have shown that studying the brain’s functions is crucial to the understanding and treatment of addiction and gambling disorders,’ said Glenn Christenson, chairman of the NCRG. ‘The research in this monograph focuses on what significant technological advances in areas such as brain imaging and genetics further demonstrating the complex biological factors at play in gambling disorders.’

This sixth volume of the NCRG’s monograph series is titled, ‘Gambling and the Brain: Why Neuroscience Research is Vital to Gambling Research’ and includes research summaries about the following topics:

‘Neurobiology and Pathological Gambling’ by Jon E. Grant, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.

Biochemical, functional neuroimaging, genetic studies and treatment research have suggested a strong neurobiological link between behavioral addictions and substance use disorders. An improved understanding of this connection not only gives researchers a greater understanding of both disorders, but helps to improve prevention and treatment strategies. Dr. Grant provides a helpful overview of this issue, including a discussion of the various neurotransmitters — chemicals that carry signals — implicated in the development of addiction and other psychiatric disorders.

‘Brain Activity in Pathological Gambling’ by Marc Potenza, M.D., Ph.D.

Urges to gamble usually precede the self-destructive behaviors observed in individuals with gambling problems (Potenza et al., 2003). Dr. Potenza’s article illustrates how brain imaging technology, or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can be used to observe brain function in real time and better understand the role that urges play in the development of a gambling disorder.

‘Brain Imaging Studies: A Review’ by Anna E. Goudriaan, Ph.D.

Dr. Goudriaan provides an overview of neuroimaging research on gambling disorders. She shows how fMRIs are used to study different regions of the brain and to investigate the role that a person’s reward system, reactivity to cues and decision-making abilities play in pathological gambling.

‘The Rat Gambling Task: Understanding the Role of Serotonin and Dopamine in Pathological Gambling’ by Catharine A. Winstanley, Ph.D.

By examining rewards and punishments in a gambling task, researchers were able to further examine the roles that different neurotransmitters can play in addictive behaviors. Dr.Winstanley summarizes an animal research study that demonstrates that laboratory rats can play the odds and provides evidence that the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin play a role in gambling behavior.

A downloadable copy ofIncreasing the Oddsis available on the NCRG website. The first five volumes of the series, which address topics such as youth and gambling, the various aspects of gambling addiction recovery, gambling and public health and self-exclusion programs, are also available on the website. To request a hard copy of the sixth volume ofIncreasing the Odds, contact Amy Martin at 202-552-2689

For more information on the NCRG, To stay up-to-date on year-round educational opportunities and the latest news and issues in the field, visit the NCRG’s blog –Gambling Disorders 360°– and connect with the NCRG onFacebookandTwitter.