EXETER, England, Feb. 25 (UPI) —
Whether gamblers win a bet or just come close, their brains react pretty much the same way, researchers in Britain say.
Dr. Natalia Lawrence of the University of Exeter and Dr. Simon Dymond at Swansea University said they pinpointed the changes in the brain that lead gamblers to react in the same way to near-misses as they do to winning.
The researchers studied male gamblers and non-gamblers and exposed them to simulated slot machines presenting win, loss and near-miss outcomes. The study subjects underwent a brain scan using a technique called magnetoencephalography, which measures both the timing and location of brain responses to different gambling outcomes.
It emerged that theta activity increased in response to near-misses relative to other losses in brain regions such as insula and orbitofrontal cortex — parts of the brain involved with consciousness, emotion, perception, motor control, self-awareness and cognitive functioning — which are linked to gambling severity.
The study leaders presented the findings in the journal NeuroImage.