Studies have shown that the release of dopamine during play occurs in areas of the brain similar to those that are activated by using drugs of abuse. In fact, just like drugs, repeated exposure to gambling and uncertainty produce lasting changes in the human brain. When you play, your brain releases dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and that excites you. Hopefully you only feel excited when you win, but your body produces this neurological response even when you lose.
Much of the research supporting the classification of gambling disorder with other addictions comes from brain imaging studies and neurochemical tests. These have revealed common aspects in the way gambling and drugs of abuse work in the brain, and in the way the brains of addicts respond to those signals. Evidence indicates that gambling activates the brain's reward system in the same way that a drug does. When we win the game, the brain releases a chemical that makes us feel good called dopamine.
Scientists have long known that the prefrontal cortex is involved in complex decision-making. An early clue was the case of Phineas Gage, a 19th-century railroad foreman who, in some accounts, became wildly impulsive after an explosion drove an iron rod through the front of his brain. Hsu thinks that the rapid repetition of past decisions could explain why the prefrontal cortex is involved in conditions such as depression and addiction, which involve a deliberate neglect of negative consequences, an apathy towards risk. What does the game do to your brain? These factors are broken down by game-specific factors (such as game environment, game exposure, game types, and game resources), as well as general factors (such as cultural, social, psychological and biological).
Although gambling addiction stands out as one of the few misuse disorders that does not involve substance use, gambling disorder remains an isolated and solitary condition, just like any other form of addiction. For example, people with a poorly active brain reward system or with less activation of the prefrontal cortex are more prone to gambling. Along with frequent mini-wins, electronic gaming machines make it easier for game designers to make quasi-errors occur more often. The other region of the brain that is often involved in gambling and substance use disorders is the prefrontal cortex.
Studies of patients with gambling are also beginning to give clues to the mechanisms involved in addiction. Since that is the area of the brain that controls happiness, among other emotions, it seems clear that gambling and drug use reduce the ability of that part of the brain to do its job. In the past, most casinos didn't have windows or clocks, so players lost track of time and played all day. A recent study aimed to model gambling decisions in rats using operant behavioral tasks derived from established tests of behavior of choice in human neuropsychology and cognitive psychology.
The gaming industry knows how to prevent infrequent winners from designing games that make you feel like you're winning even when you lose. Although it may seem contradictory that people addicted to the thrill of the game have a lower activation in the reward pathways of their brains, it makes more sense in terms of the reward deficiency model. There is increasing research in neuroscience and psychology suggesting that gambling problems are similar to drug addiction. With the exception of Hawaii and Utah, every state in the country offers some form of legalized gambling.
Even a betting application or a game on a smartphone has enough visual ornaments and sound effects to capture the attention of users for an extended period of time. These findings suggest that the main interest of those struggling with gambling addiction is to compensate for the lack of activity of the reward system and positive feelings, not money itself. .