Neural and psychological underpinnings of gambling disorder: A review

Jon E. Grant, Brian L. Odlaug, Samuel R. Chamberlain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Gambling disorder affects 0.4 to 1.6% of adults worldwide, and is highly comorbid with other mental health disorders. This article provides a concise primer on the neural and psychological underpinnings of gambling disorder based on a selective review of the literature. Gambling disorder is associated with dysfunction across multiple cognitive domains which can be considered in terms of impulsivity and compulsivity. Neuroimaging data suggest structural and functional abnormalities of networks involved in reward processing and top-down control. Gambling disorder shows 50-60% heritability and it is likely that various neurochemical systems are implicated in the pathophysiology (including dopaminergic, glutamatergic, serotonergic, noradrenergic, and opioidergic). Elevated rates of certain personality traits (e.g. negative urgency, disinhibition), and personality disorders, are found. More research is required to evaluate whether cognitive dysfunction and personality aspects influence the longitudinal course and treatment outcome for gambling disorder. It is hoped that improved understanding of the biological and psychological components of gambling disorder, and their interactions, may lead to improved treatment approaches and raise the profile of this neglected condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-193
Number of pages6
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Feb 4 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare that there are no competing financial interests in relation to the submitted work. No assistance was provided in the writing of this article. Dr. Grant has received research grant support from NIDA, NCRG, Psyadon Pharmaceuticals, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Roche Pharmaceuticals, and Transcept Pharmaceuticals. He has also received royalties from American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., Oxford University Press, Norton, and McGraw Hill Publishers. Mr. Odlaug has received research grant support from the Trichotillomania Learning Center, has consulted for Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals and has received royalties from Oxford University Press. Dr. Chamberlain has consulted for Cambridge Cognition.

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the National Center for Responsible Gaming to Dr. Grant, and a research grant from the Trichotillomania Learning Center to Mr. Odlaug, and by a research grant from the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK) to Dr. Chamberlain.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cognition
  • Gambling
  • Genetics
  • Imaging
  • Personality


Dive into the research topics of 'Neural and psychological underpinnings of gambling disorder: A review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this