Japanese researchers find norepinephrine levels may be linked to gambling addiction
(Medical Xpress) -- Because addictions cause so much havoc in the lives of millions of people, researchers the world over are constantly looking for both their causes and ways to treat them. One such addiction, to gambling, has proven to be particularly tricky. To date, not a single approved medication has been found to help people who suffer from this category of addiction. Now however, thanks to the work of a team of scientists from the Kyoto University graduate school of medicine, researchers might be getting closer. They have found, as they explain in their paper in Molecular Psychiatry, that people with lower levels of the norepinephrine transporter in their brain, tend to take losing money less hard than do other people, which could of course, lead to gambling problems.
This happens the team says, because less norepinephrine transporter means less absorption of extracellular norepinephrine, which means more of it remains in the brain. This, the researchers say, dulls the pain of loss.
To find all this out, the research team enlisted 19 male volunteers who were first given some gambling tasks. Once they were done with that, each volunteer was then given a PET scan which allows researchers to see what is going on with brain transporters. After analyzing all of the scans, the researchers found that those volunteers with lower levels of the norepinephrine transporter also had higher levels of norepinephrine in their brains, which the researchers say, would make them less likely to feel the pain of monetary loss. In contrast, they found that others in the test group had higher levels of the transporter and thus lower levels of norepinephrine, which would of course mean they would more strongly feel the pain associated with financial loss, known more commonly as “loss aversion.”
The point, the research team emphasizes, is that norepinephrine levels vary from person to person. Some feel a profound sense of loss in losing just a little bit of money, while others may feel little but annoyance at suddenly not being able to pay the rent. Thus, they suggest, while it might seem like every decision every person makes is all of their own free will, it might be that not all decision making comes from the same place.
More research will have to be done of course, but this new study may help lead the way to pharmaceuticals that could conceivably lower the amount of transporters and thus increase the amount of norepinephrine in the brains of gambling addicts, and thus help them curb their risky behavior.
More information: Norepinephrine in the brain is associated with aversion to financial loss, Molecular Psychiatry, (21 February 2012) doi:10.1038/mp.2012.7
Understanding the molecular mechanism of extreme or impaired decision-making observed in neuropsychiatric disorders, such as pathological gambling and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), could contribute to better assessment and the development of novel pharmacological therapies for those disorders. Typically, most people show a disproportionate distaste for possible losses compared with equal-sized gains.
Journal reference: Molecular Psychiatry
© 2011 PhysOrg.com
- Cocaine's effects on brain metabolism may contribute to abuse Feb 18, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Research uncovers how antidepressants actually work Feb 18, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Is the description-experience gap in risky choice limited to rare events? Jun 02, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- PET scans help identify mechanism underlying seasonal mood changes Sep 02, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Experimental treatments for cocaine addiction may prevent relapse Aug 26, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
Ratio of Hydrogen of Oxygen in Dessicated Animal Protein
May 13, 2013 As an experiment, for the past few months I've been consuming at least one portion of Jell-O or unflavored Knox gelatin per day. I'm 64, in very...
Alcohol and acetaminophen
May 13, 2013 Edit: sorry for the typo in the title , can't edit I looked around on google quite a bit and it's very hard to find precise information on the...
Marie Curie's leukemia
May 13, 2013 Does anyone know what might be the cause of Marie Curie's cancer
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Patients with treatment-resistant major depression saw dramatic improvement in their illness after treatment with ketamine, an anesthetic, according to the largest ketamine clinical trial to-date led by researchers from the ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 14 hours ago | 4.7 / 5 (3) | 0 |
The latest makeover to a massive psychiatric tome honored by some, reviled by others and even called the "Bible" of mental disorders is being released Saturday with a host of new changes.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 18, 2013 | not rated yet | 1
(HealthDay)—Most Medicare beneficiaries treated in inpatient psychiatric facilities (IPFs) exhibit characteristics associated with hospital readmission, according to a report prepared for the National Association ...
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Skydivers show the same level of physical stress before every jump whether a first-timer or experienced jumper, say Northumbria researchers.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | not rated yet | 0 |
Children of depressed parents pick up on their parents' sadness—whether mom or dad realizes their mood or not.
Psychology & Psychiatry May 17, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (2) | 1 |
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have identified a potential new risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea: asthma. Using data from the National Institutes of Health (Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)-funded Wisconsin ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
A new study looking at sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and markers for Alzheimer's disease (AD) risk in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and neuroimaging adds to the growing body of research linking the two.
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
The hunt for an HIV vaccine has gobbled up $8 billion in the past decade, and the failure of the most recent efficacy trial has delivered yet another setback to 26 years of efforts.
7 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
In their quest to learn more about the variability of cells between and within tissues, biomedical scientists have devised tools capable of simultaneously measuring dozens of characteristics of individual ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Scientists at Johns Hopkins have turned their view of osteoarthritis (OA) inside out. Literally. Instead of seeing the painful degenerative disease as a problem primarily of the cartilage that cushions joints, ...
3 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0 |
Gourmands and foodies everywhere have long recognized ginger as a great way to add a little peppery zing to both sweet and savory dishes; now, a study from researchers at Columbia University shows purified components of the ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0