New Edition Of The Wager Looks At Study Comparing Brains Of Disordered Gamblers And Individuals With Alcohol Dependence

Scientists have identified many commonalities between people with gambling problems and those with substance use disorders. Are there similarities in brain function? A recent edition ofThe WAGER(Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report) reviews a study focused on this issue.

The most recent edition ofTheWAGER– Vol. 15(8)reviews a 2009 study published in the journalAddiction(Lawrence, Luty, Bogdan, Sahakian, & Clark, 2009) that compares decision-making and brain function in individuals with gambling disorders, alcohol dependant individuals, and healthy controls (participants without gambling or alcohol problems). The three groups were given a series of tests designed to evaluate traits such as impulsivity, decision-making on a gambling task and short-term recall. Individuals with gambling and alcohol problems showed significantly lower levels of impulse control than healthy controls. Only disordered gamblers went “bankrupt” significantly more often in the gambling task, and only alcohol dependant participants had significantly reduced short-term recall (possibly an effect of heavy alcohol use). For the full review or to access online reviews of research on other addictive disorders, visit The BASIS (Brief Addiction Science Information Source) at

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Lawrence, A. J., Luty, J., Bogdan, N. A., Sahakian, B. J., & Clark, L. (2009). Problem gamblers share deficits in impulsive decision-making with alcohol-dependent individuals.Addiction,104(6), 1006-1015. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02533.x

NCRG staffIn the NewsBASISdecision makingDivision on AddictionsHarvard Medical Schoolproblem gamblingThe WAGER