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Some Genetic Contribution

Gambling addictions may have partially genetic roots, the Telegraph reports. It notes that in a new study, researchers from the UK and Canada compared individuals with a gambling disorder to their unaffected siblings and unrelated controls.

"Impulsivity, risky decision-making, and altered brain reward processing are observed in people with gambling disorder," first author Eve Limbrick-Oldfield, a postdoc at the University of British Columbia, says in a statement. "We wanted to find out whether these markers represent pre-existing vulnerabilities or are a consequence of how gambling changes the brain. To test this, we studied gamblers' siblings since they share similar genetic material and environment."

As reported in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, the participants each filled out a questionnaire and underwent MRI scanning while completing a gambling task and while completing a task that measures impulse control. Individuals with gambling disorders self-reported higher impulsiveness and exhibited increased risk taking on the gambling test. Their siblings, meanwhile, also exhibited increased impulsiveness and risk taking, as compared to controls. This suggested to the researchers that individuals with gambling disorders might have a pre-existing genetic vulnerability.

The Telegraph notes that there were no differences in the brain scans between the siblings and controls, indicting that the differences observed in those with a gambling disorder might be an effect of that condition.