Tokyo: If you are a gambling addict, chances are that you may develop poor ability to assess and adapt to high-risk situations in real life, says a study.
Gambling addiction is a mental disorder characterized by excessive risk-taking despite negative results.
"We noticed that gambling addicts also have higher levels of mood and anxiety disorders," said lead author Hidehiko Takahashi from Kyoto University, Japan.
"Hence pleasure may not be the main goal, but rather an inability to properly recognize risk and adapt accordingly," Takahashi said.
Through a series of gambling tasks which required participants to earn a certain amount of credits, the researchers determined their flexibility in risk-taking between addicts and non-addicts.
Addicts were found to go with a risky strategy even if that choice was sub-optimal.
"We observed diminished activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in cognitive flexibility," Takahashi noted.
"This indicates that these subjects lack an ability to adapt their behaviour to the risk level of the situation," he added.
Adults tend to make decisions by evaluating the likelihood of success based on the level of tolerable risk. Adjustments are then made based on prevailing circumstances.
On the other hand, addicts get inclined toward unnecessarily risky action, demonstrating a defect in risk assessment and adaptation, said the study published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
Previous studies have shown that addicts have altered activity in brain regions related to risk and reward, making them prone to prefer risky choices.