The dopamine system is believed to affect gambling behavior in pathological gambling. Particularly, dopamine release in the ventral striatum appears to affect decision-making in the disorder. This study investigated dopamine release in the ventral striatum in relation to gambling performance on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT) in 16 Pathological Gamblers (PG) and 14 Healthy Controls (HC). We used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) to measure the binding potential of [11C] raclopride to dopamine D2/3 receptors during a baseline and gambling condition. We hypothesized that decreased raclopride binding potentials in the ventral striatum during gambling (indicating dopamine release) would be associated with higher IGT performance in Healthy Controls, but lower IGT performance in Pathological Gamblers. The results showed that Pathological Gamblers with dopamine release in the ventral striatum had significantly lower IGT performance than Healthy Controls. Furthermore, dopamine release was associated with significantly higher IGT performance in Healthy Controls and significantly lower IGT performance in Pathological Gamblers. The results suggest that dopamine release is involved both in adaptive and maladaptive decision-making. These findings may contribute to a better understanding of dopaminergic dysfunctions in pathological gambling and substance related addictions.
- Iowa Gambling Task
- Pathological gambling
- Positron Emission Tomography
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)