Trying your luck at a casino once in a while can be quite exciting, but going back to the gambling table night after night may indicate addiction. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who don’t seem to mind losing their money, believing that they can win it all back in one last game. This addiction is what prompted researchers to find a cause for excessive gambling. Now it seems that a group of Japanese researchers has finally found something of significance.

According to their study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, people with lower levels of the norepinephrine transporter in the brain are much more likely to keep trying their luck even after it has long since run out.

In the study, 19 male volunteers were recruited and given gambling tasks. Afterward, they underwent a positron emission tomography scan, which allowed researchers to look at their norepinephrine transporters. Those with lower levels of transporters tend to absorb less extracellular norepinephrine, leaving more of it inside the brain. According to the researchers, this is what dulls their sense of loss. Meanwhile, those with higher levels of transporters have less extracellular norepinephrine in the brain and, therefore, feel the pain of loss more strongly.

Norepinephrine transporter levels differ from person to person. However, researchers believe that their discovery can pave the way for the pharmaceutical industry to help people with serious gambling addictions.


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(Photo by alexhd57 via sxc.hu)

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