Neural correlates of the impact of control on decision making in pathological gambling

Matthew E. Hudgens-Haney, Jordan P. Hamm, Adam S. Goodie, Elizabeth A. Krusemark, Jennifer E. McDowell, Brett A. Clementz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Perceived control over a gambling outcome leads individuals to accept more and larger bets, increased risk-taking. Pathological gamblers, however, do not diminish risk-taking when control is absent, suggesting an illusion of control. To evaluate neural correlates of perceived control in gamblers, this study compared magnetoencephalography responses of 36 pathological (PG) and 36 non-pathological gamblers (NPG) during the Georgia Gambling Task.PGs exhibited greater activity in bilateral primary sensory regions. An interaction between pathology and control over the gambling task was observed bilaterally throughout dorsal and ventral visual processing streams, and lateral PFC. NPGs showed decreased activity when control was absent. Groups did not differ in response to potential bet cost. These findings provide neurophysiological evidence that PGs suffer from the pattern of risk-taking associated with perceived control, even when no control exists. They suggest that gambling pathology contributes to differential processing of gambling stimuli other than potential costs or rewards.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision making
  • Gambling addiction
  • Georgia gambling task
  • MEG
  • Pathological gambling
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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