[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 26-Mar-2008
[ | E-mail Share Share ]

Contact: Charlotte Webber
charlotte.webber@biomedcentral.com
44-020-763-19980
BioMed Central

Compulsive gamblers always down on their luck

Gambling addicts don't learn from their mistakes, according to a study published today in the open access journal Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health. The problem could be explained by a kind of mental rigidity that leads to harmful compulsive behaviour in sufferers.

Donatella Marazziti of the University of Pisa and colleagues explain that pathological gambling revolves around the uncontrolled impulse to gamble, with serious consequences for the individual and their family. Its cause, however, is unclear. Scientists have suggested that environmental factors and a genetic predisposition play a part, affecting chemical signals in the brain.

In order to home in on the underlying cause, the Pisa team evaluated a group of 15 male and 5 female pathological gamblers. They carried out various neuropsychological tests in order to explore which areas of the brain are related to the disorder. The tests included the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST), the Wechsler Memory Scale revised (WMS-R) and the Verbal Associative Fluency Test (FAS). Each of which can assess particular problem-solving abilities. They compared the results with those of healthy individuals.

They found that the pathological gamblers scored well in all tests except the card sorting. In this test, the patients had great difficulty in finding different ways to solve each problem in the test as they worked through them, whereas the healthy individuals got better with practice.

"Our findings show that in spite of normal intellectual, linguistic and visual-spatial abilities, the pathological gamblers could not learn from their mistakes to look for alternative solutions in the WCST," say the researchers. This suggests that there are differences in the part of the brain involved in this kind of problem solving, the prefrontal region. "These differences might provoke a sort of cognitive 'rigidity' that predisposes a person to the development of impulsive or compulsive behaviour, leading to pathological gambling."

###

Notes to Editors:

1. Executive function abnormalities in pathological gamblers
Donatella Marazziti, Mario Catena Dell'Osso, Ciro Conversano, Giorgio Consoli, Laura Vivarelli, Francesco Mungai, Elena Di Nasso and Francesca Golia
Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health (in press)

During embargo, article available here:
http://www.cpementalhealth.com/imedia/1347978513151156_article.pdf?random=931706

After the embargo, article available at the journal website:
http://www.cpementalhealth.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Centralís open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. CPEMH (CPEMH) will encompass all aspects of clinical and epidemiological research in psychiatry and mental health, and will aim to build a bridge between clinical and epidemiological research.

CPEMH is aimed at clinicians and researchers focused on improving the knowledge base for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of mental health conditions; and improving the knowledge concerning frequencies and determinants of mental health conditions in the community and the populations at risk.

The journal will also cover health services research and economic aspects of psychiatry, with special attention given to manuscripts presenting new results and methods in the important area of epidemiology of treatments in mental heath, particularly clinical epidemiologic investigation of pharmaceutical agents.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.