The effect of gambling on the human brain

Gambling – be it lottery, casino games, slots, internet poker, or sports betting – is now more affordable than ever before. For most people, gambling is a recreational activity. But there are many people for whom gambling is progressing into a serious problem. Mental health professionals have equated gambling addiction with drug and alcohol addiction, which alters brain activity.

In the course of research, experts at The Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada found that every eighth teenager plays a demo version of slot machines. The situation is even more sad in Britain, where according to the Gambling Commission, 3% of children aged 11-16 spend their pocket money on video slots, learning about them in TV advertisements on social networks. According to Canadian doctor Tara Elton-Marshall, the main reason for this addiction is the frequent winnings during the free game in the home version. After such frequent winnings, teenagers think they can easily beat the casino while playing for money.

By the way, our editors made a video on this topic:

Employees of the American Johns Hopkins University are sure that the prefrontal cortex of the brain (motor skills, attention, activation or inhibition of emotions) is responsible for this behavior of a gambler. In support of their words, scientists conducted a unique experiment on two macaques. During this experiment, the macaques played two computer games. In the first game, the probability of winning was only 20%, but the animal was encouraged by a good reward. In the second game, the chance of winning was already 80%, but the reward was negligible. At the beginning of the experiment, the animals chose the game with high stakes. At the second stage, scientists partially suppressed the functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the animal brain, after which the macaques began to choose a game with a guaranteed prize. Based on this important experiment, scientists have concluded that gambling addicts have significantly reduced activity in the area of ​​the brain that is responsible for flexibility during decision making.

However, on the other hand, the situation does not look so critical considering the fact that almost half of the people surveyed said that everyone knows about gambling addiction and are ready to resist it. All countries where gambling is legalized have strict laws governing this market.

In educational institutions, teenagers are constantly being given preventive talks.

In addition, scientists at the University of Oxford found that gamblers are much easier to endure various stresses. Studies have found that gamblers have a 20% reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) levels. It has also been known for a long time that card games are good for memory and develop motor skills. And during the experiment, Dutch experts found that gamblers who had not eaten for several hours before the game were not as impulsive as usual, I carefully weigh my every bet.

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