An assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of cashless gambling technologies in NSW


{BACKGROUND:} Pathological gambling {(PG)} is an impulse control disorder characterized by persistent and maladaptive gambling behaviors with disruptive consequences for familial, occupational and social functions. The pathophysiology of {PG} is still unclear, but it is hypothesized that it might include environmental factors coupled with a genetic vulnerability and dysfunctions of different neurotransmitters and selected brain areas. Our study aimed to evaluate a group of patients suffering from {PG} by means of some neuropsychological tests in order to explore the brain areas related to the disorder. {METHODS:} Twenty outpatients (15 men, 5 women), with a diagnosis of {PG} according to {DSM-IV} criteria, were included in the study and evaluated with a battery of neuropsychological tests: the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test {(WCST)}, the Wechsler Memory Scale revised {(WMS-R)} and the Verbal Associative Fluency Test {(FAS).} The results obtained in the patients were compared with normative values of matched healthy control subjects. {RESULTS:} The {PG} patients showed alterations at the {WCST} only, in particular they had a great difficulty in finding alternative methods of problem-solving and showed a decrease, rather than an increase, in efficiency, as they progressed through the consecutive phases of the test. The mean scores of the other tests were within the normal range. {CONCLUSIONS:} Our findings showed that patients affected by {PG}, in spite of normal intellectual, linguistic and visual-spatial abilities, had abnormalities emerging from the {WCST}, in particular they could not learn from their mistakes and look for alternative solutions. Our results would seem to confirm an altered functioning of the prefrontal areas which might provoke a sort of cognitive "rigidity" that might predispose to the development of impulsive and/or compulsive behaviors, such as those typical of {PG.}

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