New York: Adding flashing lights and music to gambling encourages risky decision-making, shows a study. The study which laid the groundwork for possible treatment of gambling addiction in humans, discovered that rats behaved like problem gamblers when sound and light cues were added to a “rat casino” model.
The rats, which gambled for sugary treats, normally learn how to avoid the risky options. But that changed when flashing lights and sounds were added, the study showed. Scientists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada also found that the rats no longer acted like problem gamblers, when they were administered a drug that blocked the action of a specific dopamine receptor that has been linked to addiction.
“This brain receptor is also really important to drug addiction, so our findings help support the idea that risky behaviour across different vices might have a common biological cause,” said lead author Michael Barrus, from UBC. Dopamine D3 receptors modulate the ability of win-paired cues to increase risky choice in a rat gambling task, the findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, showed.