Gambling and the Brain

1523 Words Jun 21st, 2018 7 Pages
Gambling and the Brain

Why do gamblers bet more after they just lost a hand? Why do investors throw good money after bad? Why do people believe that a string of losses makes a win more likely? Why do so many people say that they will win their money back in the next hand? Is part of the appeal of gambling its unpredictability? Or do we just look at it as a way to "get rich quick"? The answer to these questions may lie in the science of the brain. Some studies indicate that gamblers bet more after a loss because they are induced to fix an error. Their brains are telling them they've made a mistake and that they need to correct it (1). These studies could possibly explain other risky acts. If you ask many people why gamble, their
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This experiment showed that blood flow to the brain changed in ways similar to that seen in other experiments where an infusion of cocaine is given to cocaine addicts. Similar changes in blood flow to the brain occur when low doses of morphine are given to drug-free individuals. The changes varied in accordance with the amount of money involved, and a broadly distributed set of brain regions were involved in anticipating a win. The more money involved, the more excited the person became. The primary response to winning, or the prospect of winning, was seen in the right hemisphere of the brain, while the left hemisphere was more active in response to losing (3). This similarity suggests that common brain circuitry is used for various types of rewards (4). This study is also important because identifying regions of the brain and then mapping the neural pathways that process the anticipation and rewards could possibly lead to the development of medications or interventions that could block these circuits and provide other treatment approaches.

William Gehring, of the University of Michigan, and his colleagues, used an EEG to monitor the brain waves of experimental subjects as they played a gambling-type game. There were twelve subjects who played a video game in which they had to choose two numbers: 5 and 25. If they picked 5
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