Bechara et al (1994) developed the Gambling Task as a diagnostic test of decision-making deficit in neurological populations. More recently, the gambling task has been used to explore implications of the somatic marker hypothesis, as well as to study suboptimal decision making in a variety of domains. Researchers examined relations among gambling task decision making, working memory (WM) load, and somatic markers in a modified version of the gambling task. Increased WM load produced by secondary tasks led to poorer gambling performance. Declines in gambling performance were associated with the absence of the affective reactions that anticipate choice outcomes and guide future decision making. Our experiments provide evidence that WM processes contribute to the development of somatic markers. If WM functioning is taxed, somatic markers may not develop, and decision making may thereby suffer. (Accessed 7-16. http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/CABN.2.4.341)

The Variable Schedule of Reinforcement helps push people to keep gambling. Once they’ve gambled, been rewarded, and linked pleasure to the reward, the excitement and anticipation pushes them to go forward. When they haven’t won for awhile, often they have an even stronger sense that maybe this time they’ll win. (Robbins, Anthony. Awaken the Giant Within. NY: Fireside, 1991, pp 142-143)

Pathological gambling tends to resemble alcoholism (e.g., lack of impulse control that may be related to ADD). EEGs showed abnormality in alternating between right and left hemispheres and some reversals (e.g., left activated during nonverbals). (Bricklin, Mark, et al. Positive Living and Health. PA: Rodale Press, 1990, p 471)

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