Brain imaging studies in pathological gambling

Abstract

This article reviews the neuroimaging research on pathological gambling {(PG).} Because of the similarities between substance dependence and {PG}, {PG} research has used paradigms similar to those used in substance use disorder research, focusing on reward and punishment sensitivity, cue reactivity, impulsivity, and decision making. This review shows that {PG} is consistently associated with blunted mesolimbic-prefrontal cortex activation to nonspecific rewards, whereas these areas show increased activation when exposed to gambling-related stimuli in cue exposure paradigms. Very little is known, and hence more research is needed regarding the neural underpinnings of impulsivity and decision making in {PG.} This review concludes with a discussion regarding the challenges and new developments in the field of neurobiological gambling research and comments on their implications for the treatment of {PG.}

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