Selective decision-making deficits in at-risk gamblers

Jon Edgar Grant, Samuel Robin Chamberlain, Liana Renne Nelson Schreiber, Brian Lawrence Odlaug, Suck W Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Despite reasonable knowledge of pathological gambling (PG), little is known of its cognitive antecedents. We evaluated decision-making and impulsivity characteristics in people at risk of developing PG using neuropsychological tests. Non-treatment seeking volunteers (18-29 years) who gamble ?. 5 times/year were recruited from the general community, and split into two groups: those "at risk" of developing PG (n= 74) and those social, non-problem gamblers (n= 112). Participants undertook the Cambridge Gamble and Stop-signal tasks and were assessed with the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview and the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Pathological Gambling. On the Cambridge Gamble task, the at-risk subjects gambled more points overall, were more likely to go bankrupt, and made more irrational decisions under situations of relative risk ambiguity. On the Stop-signal task, at-risk gamblers did not differ from the social, non-problem gamblers in terms of motor impulse control (stop-signal reaction times). Findings suggest that selective cognitive dysfunction may already be present in terms of decision-making in at-risk gamblers, even before psychopathology arises. These findings implicate selective decision-making deficits and dysfunction of orbitofronto-limbic circuitry in the chain of pathogenesis between social, non-problematic and pathological gambling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-120
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: this research is supported by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the Institute for Responsible Gaming to Dr. Grant. The funding agency had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; or preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Funding Information:
Dr. Grant has received research grants from National Institute on Drug Abuse (RC1-DA028279-01), Forest Pharmaceuticals, and Psyadon Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Chamberlain has consulted for Cambridge Cognition, P1Vital, and Shire Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Odlaug has received honoraria from Oxford University Press and Current Medicine Group, LLC. Ms. Schreiber and Dr. Kim report no biomedical financial interests or potential conflicts of interest.


  • Addiction
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Inhibition
  • Pathogenesis
  • Pathological gambling


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