Attenuated Directed Exploration during Reinforcement Learning in Gambling Disorder

Journal: Journal of Neuroscience

Published: 2021-03-17

DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.1607-20.2021

Affiliations: 4

Authors: 3

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Research Highlight

Gamblers play it safe

© Raymundo Guerrero/EyeEm/Getty Images

© Raymundo Guerrero/EyeEm/Getty Images

Compulsive gamblers are less likely to explore new, untested strategies than people who don’t suffer from gambling disorder.

When selecting a restaurant or holiday location, a person can choose a tried and tested one or they can take a risk and try a new one. While the first strategy is a safe bet, it limits the ability to make new discoveries.

Now, three researchers at Universität Hamburg have compared the strategies employed by 23 habitual gamblers with 23 control subjects when presented with four options involving varying levels of risk in the so-called four-armed bandit task. They found that compulsive gamblers were more likely to stick with proven options during the experiment than the control subjects.

The researchers suspect that this difference in behaviour is related to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Supported content

  1. Journal of Neuroscience 41, 2512–2522 (2021). doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1607-20.2021
Institutions Share
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), UHH, Germany 0.61
University of Cologne (UoC), Germany 0.17
University of Paris, France 0.11
GHU Paris Psychiatry and Neurosciences, France 0.11