|Bettors are more attracted to money than to sex|
Bettors are more attracted to money than to sex: Compulsive gamblers are not necessarily more greedy than the rest of the population, their brains must only be connected to promote money on sex. This is the conclusion reached by a study presented at the conference of the Society for Neuroscience . This tendency to prioritize money on the most basic desires resembles other addictions such as alcoholism, say researchers, and it could be supported by new therapies.
Of the millions of people who gamble for pleasure, about 1 to 2% can be qualified as pathologic bettors. They can not stop although they have serious negative consequences: indebtedness, degraded relations with their entourage and even demolition of slot machines and arrests when their habit is out of control. This inability to stop even after colossal losses is one of the reasons why gambling has recently become one of the behavioral addictions recognized in the DSM-5 Diagnostic Manual. After all, professional poker players can play up to 10 hours a day without being considered drug addicts, at least as long as they can stop when their luck has turned.
The researchers hypothesized that the fundamentals of gambling addiction could be hypersensitivity to the euphoric states produced by the money gains, caused by dysfunctional connections in the neural circuits that treat the reward . Studies have produced contradictory results, so Sescousse decided to study a different hypothesis. He wondered if instead of being too sensitive to monetary reward, compulsive gamblers were not rather less sensitive to other kinds of rewards, such as alcohol and sex.
To stay that idea, the team of researchers recruited 18 male pathologists. They also recruited 20 pathological non-gamblers. After going through assessments to determine how much they were betting, volunteers settled in an MRI scanner to record brain activity during a task that required pushing a button as quickly as possible to earn money , Or to see pictures of sexy women. The more participants pressed the button quickly, the more motivated they were to get a reward. This experimental paradigm was more objective than a questionnaire, and it had been tested more extensively on human and animal models.
Before performing this task, the majority of bettors reported that they valued money as much as sex. Yet their results showed an unconscious tendency towards money. Their reaction time, when they were trying to make money, was 4% faster than when they were trying to visualize an erotic photo, an effect that “might seem tiny, but that is actually highly significant” in this type Research, says the researcher.
As the participants realized their task, researchers analyzed their brain reactions on MRI, which analyzed blood flow as a measure of brain activity. They discovered that bettors had greatly diminished reactions to erotic images compared to monetary images in the ventral striatum, an area of the brain that treats the reward. The difference in response was much lower in the control subjects, who were not compulsive gamblers.
Next, the researchers analyzed participants’ brain activity in another key region of the brain involved in the process of reward, the orbito-frontal cortex. Previous studies of healthy individuals have observed that different parts of the orbito-frontal cortex responded to erotic and monetary stimuli, a division that they thought reflected a dissociation between innate rewards such as diet and sex , Which are fundamental to survival, and secondary rewards like money and power, which we must learn to value.