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This stock vector image is scalable to any size. You can buy and download it in high resolution up to 5000×5000. Date Uploaded: April 26, 2017 A recent study offers new insight into gambling addiction. According to the findings, the sounds and lights that accompany a win on slot machines increase the likelihood of making risky decisions.
The North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help estimates that 2.6% of US adults are addicted to gambling, which equates to approximately 10 million people.
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The cost to the economy is just as staggering, with experts estimating it to be close to $6 billion a year.
As with alcohol or any other drug addiction, treating gambling addiction can be a difficult and lengthy process.
Understanding exactly why and how certain individuals become addicted to gambling could help scientists find new ways to minimize the risk of becoming addicted.
With this goal in mind, researchers are eager to understand why the experience of gambling machines is such a powerful lure for some people.
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Previous studies in rodents have shown that linking audiovisual cues to rewards can alter behavior. For example, in one study, scientists combined food rewards with lights and sounds in a “rodent gambling task.”
During the task, the rats chose between four options that had different levels of risk and reward. The most sensible approach for the rodents was to choose the option with the lowest reward but the least severe punishment, rather than the high-risk, high-reward options.
For some of the rats, the researchers paired the sounds and lights with the rewards. The study showed that the rodents in this experimental group were more likely to make riskier choices.
To date, research has not investigated this effect in humans. Recently, researchers led by Catharine Winstanley and Mariya Cherkasova – both from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada – designed an experiment to fill this gap. The
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The new experiment used the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), which is similar to the rodent gambling task presented above. The design of the IGT means that it simulates real-life decision-making. They followed this with a two-choice lottery task.
Some of the participants experienced auditory and visual cues whenever they won. These cues replicated the “bells and whistles” that accompany winnings on commercial gambling machines.
The results showed that participants who were exposed to these types of images and sounds during the two-choice lottery task were more likely to make high-risk decisions. In particular, the association of higher winnings with images of stacks of money and extended casino jingles stimulated risky choices.
“Our data directly demonstrate, for the first time, that sensory cues concurrent with reward can promote risky choice in human subjects.”
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They continue: “To our knowledge, this is the first direct demonstration of [the] risk-promoting effects of such cues in human subjects.”
Changes in pupil size demonstrated that participants were more excited when lights and sounds accompanied their win. The results also identified a link between riskier decisions and pupil dilation, which the authors say is the first demonstration of this effect.
Interestingly, audiovisual cues blunted participants’ ability to retrieve information about the odds of winning. For example, those playing the game with audiovisual cues spent less time looking at the probability information on the screens.
The authors believe that their “findings support the idea that sensory stimulation in gambling may act to emphasize unfavorable odds of winning.”
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Overall, the results seem to show that the lights and noises that gambling machines produce increase the pleasure of winning, decrease a player’s ability to understand risk, and increase the likelihood that they will take more risks.
It is important to add that this is the first human study of its kind and included only 131 participants. The results are fascinating, but further studies will need to replicate them to solidify the conclusions. New research from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada suggests that all the flashing lights and bell-like noises in s may be just as problematic. as they are stimulating. A study by UBC researchers indicates that these time-honored basics may play a key role in promoting risky gambling behavior.
And indicates that the visual and auditory overload that people experience when experiencing it could be a significant factor in promoting problem gambling.
We found that an individual’s choices were less guided by the odds of winning when similar audiovisual features were present in our laboratory gambling game,” researcher Mariya Cherkasova told Science Daily. A risky business
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The study was prompted by previous research at UBC that found rats were more likely to make risky decisions when flashing lights were added to the equation. The scientists wanted to see if the same behavior was true in humans.
Some of the 131 participants were given a video game to play in a quiet environment. The rest played the same game but with all the bells and whistles you would find while playing a slot machine in a .
“Using eye-tracker technology, we could see that people paid less attention to information about the odds of winning a particular game of chance when pictures of money and jingles accompanied the winnings,” lead author Catharine Winstanley told Science Daily.
Those playing without audiovisual stimulation were observed to be more reserved in their decision-making, losing less money and exhibiting less compulsive behavior.
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It’s the latest data point for a scientific community trying to identify factors involved in compulsive gambling.
Earlier this year, researchers made a breakthrough when they were able to identify the specific brain arena responsible for risky activity in primates. Not only that, but by suppressing that area of the brain, they found they were able to reduce this activity by 30 to 40 percent.
Scientists say this latest research sheds light on why some people continue to gamble, even when they know the odds are stacked against them.
“While sound and light stimuli may seem innocuous,” Winstanley added, “we now understand that these cues can influence attention and encourage risky decision-making.”
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She says they’ve already received funding for a new study that will allow them to scan players’ brains to further determine what drives them to take such risks.