An Overview of the Neurobiology of Impulsivity in Gambling and Gaming Disorder
Purpose of Review
Gambling disorder (GD) and gaming disorder (IGD), the two currently recognized behavioural addictions are characterized by high levels of impulsivity. Increasing research focuses on neurocognitive impulsive features in GD and IGD as these disorders can provide a “drug-free” model to study shared neural mechanisms across addictive disorders. This review provides an overview of neurobiological findings across three impulsive components of behaviour: response inhibition, delay discounting, and reward processing.
Response inhibition is characterized by decreased fronto-striatal recruitment in these populations. The inclusion of emotional cues can, however, result in increased fronto-striatal responding in GD. During delay discounting, individuals with GD show steeper discounting which is associated with altered fronto-striatal representations of subjective value. Anticipatory reward processing in GD is associated with decreased ventral striatal activity, which negatively correlates with disorder severity. In IGD, evidence for enhanced reward sensitivity may be present.
Future studies are required to directly compare and contrast the neurobiological features of impulsivity across GD and IGD. Additionally, there is a strong need to incorporate longitudinal research designs to elucidate the neurobiological trajectory of these behavioural addictions. A better mechanistic understanding of impulsive features underlying substance and non-substance-based addictions, can improve prevention and treatment of addictions.
KeywordsResponse inhibition Delay discounting Reward processing Addiction Anticipation Neurocognition
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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