Archive for Friday, May 25, 2001

Gamblers’ brains mimic drug addicts

May 25, 2001

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— The brains of people anticipating a win at the roulette table appear to react much like those taking euphoria-inducing drugs.

A team of investigators reports in the May 24 issue of the journal Neuron that the parts of the brain that respond to the prospects of winning and losing money while gambling are the same as those that appear to respond to cocaine and morphine.

The overlap of brain activity seen in the gambling experiment with that found in earlier studies of drug use indicates, the researchers said, the brain uses the same circuitry for "the processing of diverse rewards."

A challenge for the future, said Dr. Hans Breiter of Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the study, is to determine how different parts of these brain circuits affect the thinking, emotion and motivation involved in anticipation, evaluation, and decision-making.

The primary response to winning, or the prospect of winning, was seen in the right hemisphere of the brain, while the left hemisphere was more active in response to losing.

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