The association between pathological gambling and suicidality in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers in South Africa

BACKGROUND: A number of studies have noted a significant association between suicidality and pathological gambling (PG), but the exact relationship has not been extensively characterized. It is unclear whether gambling precipitates suicidality, or whether underlying psychiatric problems, such as mood disturbances, lead to both gambling and suicidality. Furthermore, all published data on the association between suicidality and gambling is from high-income countries, and the nature of this relationship in low- and middle-income countries, such as South Africa, has not been explored.

METHODS: The relationship between gambling and suicidality was investigated in individuals who had called the South African National Responsible Gambling Programme’s helpline. Associations between sociodemographic factors, severity of gambling symptoms, comorbid psychiatric disorders, family history of psychiatric disorders, and suicidality were assessed…

Source: Stein, G. N., Pretorius, A., Stein, D. J., & Sinclair, H. (2016). The association between pathological gambling and suicidality in treatment-seeking pathological gamblers in South Africa. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry: Official Journal of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists, 28(1), 43–50.

Winning versus losing during gambling and its neural correlates

Humans often make decisions which maximize an internal utility function. For example, humans often maximize their expected reward when gambling and this is considered as a “rational” decision. However, humans tend to change their betting strategies depending on how they “feel”. If someone has experienced a losing streak, they may “feel” that they are more likely to win on the next hand even though the odds of the game have not changed. That is, their decisions are driven by their emotional state. In this paper, we investigate how the human brain responds to wins and losses during gambling. Using a combination of local field potential recordings in human subjects performing a financial decision-making task, spectral analyses, and non-parametric cluster statistics, we investigated whether neural responses in different cognitive and limbic brain areas differ between wins and losses after decisions are made…

Source: Sacré, P., Kerr, M. S. D., Subramanian, S., Kahn, K., Gonzalez-Martinez, J., Johnson, M. A., … Sarma, S. V. (2016). Winning versus losing during gambling and its neural correlates. arXiv:1602.03493 [q-Bio]. Retrieved from http://arxiv.org/abs/1602.03493

Genetic Aspects of Gambling Disorders: Recent Developments and Future Directions – Springer

The familial aggregation of gambling disorders has been documented in the literature since the late 1980s. Currently, studies in large twin samples have confirmed that genetic factors contribute to the development of gambling disorders. In comparison to other psychiatric disorders, molecular genetic studies on gambling disorders are at an early stage; however, the use of larger samples and of new methodologies has provided important insights into its genetic underpinnings. The purpose of this article is to review twin and molecular genetics studies on gambling disorders published in the past 5 years and to discuss possible future directions of research in this area…

Source: Lobo, D. S. S. (2016). Genetic Aspects of Gambling Disorders: Recent Developments and Future Directions. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports, 1–9. http://doi.org/10.1007/s40473-016-0064-7

The relationship between gambling attitudes, involvement, and problems in adolescence: Examining the moderating role of coping strategies and parenting styles

Several factors are associated with an increased risk of adolescent problem gambling, including positive gambling attitudes, higher levels of gambling involvement, ineffective coping strategies and unhelpful parenting practices. It is less clear, however, how these factors interact or influence each other in the development of problem gambling behavior during adolescence. The aim of the current study was to simultaneously explore these predictors, with a particular focus on the extent to which coping skills and parenting styles may moderate the expected association between gambling involvement and gambling problems…

Source: Dixon, R. W., Youssef, G. J., Hasking, P., Yücel, M., Jackson, A. C., & Dowling, N. A. (n.d.). The relationship between gambling attitudes, involvement, and problems in adolescence: Examining the moderating role of coping strategies and parenting styles. Addictive Behaviors. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.02.011

Why are Some Games More Addictive than Others: The Effects of Timing and Payoff on Perseverance in a Slot Machine Game – Open Access

Manipulating different behavioral characteristics of gambling games can potentially affect the extent to which individuals persevere at gambling, and their transition to problematic behaviors. This has potential impact for mobile gambling technologies and responsible gambling interventions. Two laboratory models pertinent to this are the partial reinforcement extinction effect (PREE) and the trial spacing effect. Both of these might speed up or delay the acquisition and extinction of conditioned behavior. We report an experiment that manipulated the rate of reinforcement and inter trial interval (ITI) on a simulated slot machine where participants were given the choice between gambling and skipping on each trial, before perseverative gambling was measured in extinction, followed by measurements of the illusion of control, depression and impulsivity. We hypothesized that longer ITI’s in conjunction with the low rates of reinforcement observed in gambling would lead to greater perseverance. We further hypothesized, given that timing is known to be important in displaying illusory control and potentially in persevering in gambling, that prior exposure to longer intervals might affect illusions of control.

Source: James, R. J. E., O’Malley, C., & Tunney, R. J. (2016). Why are Some Games More Addictive than Others: The Effects of Timing and Payoff on Perseverance in a Slot Machine Game. Frontiers in Psychology, 7. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00046

Which Diagnostic Criteria are Most Useful in Discriminating Between Social Gamblers and Individuals with Gambling Problems? An Examination of DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria

The current study sought to identify which diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder have the greatest ability to differentiate between social and problem gamblers. This study was conducted on a sample of male and female college student athletes across the U.S. (n = 8674). Classification and regression tree analysis represents an appropriate technique when addressing the question of an item’s diagnostic value, as it sequentially selects variables to isolate sets of observations with similar outcomes. The current results suggest that the item related to preoccupation (“Have there been periods in the past year where you spent a lot of time thinking about gambling?”) was the DSM-5 item best able to differentiate between male and female social and problem gamblers in this sample…

Source: Temcheff, C. E., Paskus, T. S., Potenza, M. N., & Derevensky, J. L. (2016). Which Diagnostic Criteria are Most Useful in Discriminating Between Social Gamblers and Individuals with Gambling Problems? An Examination of DSM-IV and DSM-5 Criteria. Journal of Gambling Studies, 1–12. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10899-015-9591-5

Exposure to and Engagement With Gambling Marketing in Social Media: Reported Impacts on Moderate-Risk and Problem Gamblers

Digital advertising for gambling and specifically marketing via social media have increased in recent years, and the impact on vulnerable consumers, including moderate-risk and problem gamblers, is unknown. Social media promotions often fall outside of advertising restrictions and codes of conduct and may have an inequitable effect on susceptible gamblers. This study aimed to investigate recall of exposure to, and reported impact on gamblers of, gambling promotions and marketing content on social media, with a focus on vulnerable users currently experiencing gambling problems. Gamblers who use social media (N = 964) completed an online survey assessing their exposure to and engagement with gambling operators on social media, their problem gambling severity, and the impact of social media promotions on their gambling…

Source: Gainsbury, S. M., King, D. L., Russell, A. M. T., Delfabbro, P., Derevensky, J., & Hing, N. (2016). Exposure to and Engagement With Gambling Marketing in Social Media: Reported Impacts on Moderate-Risk and Problem Gamblers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors: Journal of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors. http://doi.org/10.1037/adb0000156