February 16, 2009
Why We Roll the Dice
Ever wonder why people who lose at the poker table don't stop gambling? New research on how the brain works explains why "almost winning" drives someone to gamble even more. Past studies have shown that near misses, like two cherries on a slot machine or a chance to throw the dice, promote gambling tendencies, but little is known about the brain mechanisms involved.
"We devised a series of experiments to elicit near-miss and control phenomena in the laboratory and used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to explore the brain mechanisms underlying these cognitive distortions," senior study author Dr. Luke Clark from the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cambridge was quoted as saying.
"Gamblers often interpret near-misses as special events, which encourage them to continue to gamble. Our findings show that the brain responds to near-misses as if a win has been delivered, even though the result is technically a loss," said Dr. Clark.
SOURCE: Neuron, February 2009
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