A new study by scientists have shown that now gambling behaviours can be treated with drugs that block dopamine D4 receptors.
The University of British Columbia brain researchers have successfully reduced behaviours in rats that are commonly associated with compulsive gambling in humans.
This study featured the first successful ling of slot machine style gambling with rats in North America and is published in Biological Psychiatry journal. Paul Cocker, who is the lead author of the study and a PhD student in UBC’s Department of Psychology said, "More work is needed, but these findings offer new hope for the treatment of gambling addiction, which is a growing public health concern, this study sheds important new light on the brain processes involved with gambling and gambling addictions.”
The rats in the study were made to gamble for sugar pellets using a slot machine style device that featured three flashlights and two levers that they could push with their paws. The rats exhibited several behaviours which are associated with gambling problem such as the tendency to treat neat misses similar to wins.
"Pathological gambling is increasingly seen as a behavioural addiction similar to drug or alcohol addiction, but we know comparatively little about how to treat problem gambling. Our study is the first to show that by blocking these receptors we might be able to reduce the rewarding aspects of near-misses that appear to be important in gambling," Cocker said.
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