Selective decision-making deficits in at-risk gamblers

Jon Edgar Grant, Samuel Robin Chamberlain, Liana Renne Nelson Schreiber, Brian Lawrence Odlaug, Suck W Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Despite reasonable knowledge of pathological gambling (PG), little is known of its cognitive antecedents. We evaluated decision-making and impulsivity characteristics in people at risk of developing PG using neuropsychological tests. Non-treatment seeking volunteers (18-29 years) who gamble ?. 5 times/year were recruited from the general community, and split into two groups: those "at risk" of developing PG (n= 74) and those social, non-problem gamblers (n= 112). Participants undertook the Cambridge Gamble and Stop-signal tasks and were assessed with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Pathological Gambling. On the Cambridge Gamble task, the at-risk subjects gambled more points overall, were more likely to go bankrupt, and made more irrational decisions under situations of relative risk ambiguity. On the Stop-signal task, at-risk gamblers did not differ from the social, non-problem gamblers in terms of motor impulse control (stop-signal reaction times). Findings suggest that selective cognitive dysfunction may already be present in terms of decision-making in at-risk gamblers, even before psychopathology arises. These findings implicate selective decision-making deficits and dysfunction of orbitofronto-limbic circuitry in the chain of pathogenesis between social, non-problematic and pathological gambling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2011


  • Addiction
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Inhibition
  • Pathogenesis
  • Pathological gambling

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