In addition to providing long-term funding for the NCRG Centers of Excellence in Gambling Research, the NCRG funds project grants through a competitive program. The project grants program allows investigators from research institutions around the world to apply for funding for specific research projects. Since it was launched in 1996, the project grants program has advanced the field of research on gambling disorders and, in several cases, provided seed money that has enabled investigators to complete important early-stage research they subsequently leveraged into much larger federal grants.
Below is a complete list of project grants awarded since 1996, including research summaries.
Seed Grant: “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Problem Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D., University of New Mexico
Awarded $28,129 in 2012
Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP) is an aftercare treatment that has been successfully applied to a wide variety of psychological and substance use disorders. The goal of this study is to conduct a pilot randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of MBRP in the treatment of problem gambling. It is hypothesized that individuals who receive MBRP will have significantly better gambling and substance use outcomes following treatment, and that better outcomes following MBRP will be mediated by changes in urges to gamble and measures of impulsivity.
Seed Grant: “Sequential Decision Making and Illusionary Pattern Detection in Gamblers”
Principle Investigator: Andreas Wilke, Ph.D., Clarkson University
Awarded $ 28,675 in 2012
Dr. Wilke will use two novel computerized decision-making paradigms to investigate gamblers’ perceptions and choices when they decide to continue or cease betting on sequential events. While previous research has suggested a potential link between cognitive strategies and propensity to gamble, no prior study has directly measured subjects’ cognitive strategies using a sequence prediction task, and linked it to risk-taking or likelihood to gamble. The researchers will directly test if subjects that have a greater tendency to perceive illusory patterns also have a higher tendency to gamble. If so, this will reveal an important aspect of gambling behavior that may lead to new screening tools for gambling risk.
Seed Grant: “A Benchmark Study for Monitoring Exposure to New Gambling Opportunities”
Principal Investigator: Sarah E. Nelson, Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $28,750 in 2012
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is nearing an historic change to its legal gambling landscape. The expansion of legal gambling opportunities to include large resort style casinos presents a unique opportunity to learn about the short- and long-term ramifications of such expansion on public health. The project will use a state-representative online survey to establish a baseline estimate of gambling behaviors and health within Massachusetts' communities that can be used as the benchmark for a future long-term longitudinal investigation of the effect of gambling expansion on public health.
Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Stress Reactivity and Risk-taking Behavior in Pathological Gambling”
Principal Investigator: Iris Balodis, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine
Awarded $64,797 in 2012
Risk-taking behaviors and stress both activate the sympathetic nervous system and are implicated in addiction processes. However, mechanisms underlying the relationship between the stress response and engagement in risky behaviors are not well understood both in healthy as well as in populations with pathological gambling (PG). The goal of this grant project is to examine how stress system reactivity can predict measures of behavioral control and the research will integrate multiple indices of stress, incorporating physiological, subjective and behavioral measures.
Early Stage Investigator Grant: “Expanding the Study of Actual Internet Gambling Behavior: Exposure and Adaptation within a Newly Opened Market”
Principal Investigator: Heather Gray, Ph.D., Cambridge Health Alliance
Awarded $141,362 in 2012
Researchers at the Division on Addiction will partner with researchers from Reykjavik University and the University of Iceland to conduct an analysis of actual Internet gambling records from a regional Internet gaming provider. The study will use these records to conduct an epidemiological description of gamblers and gambling behavior, describe the gambling behavior of the most active and “high risk” gamblers and to examine gamblers' adaptation to new gambling opportunities. Results from these studies will provide a more complete description of how people gamble online.
Large Grant: Web-based Screening and Brief Intervention for Disordered Gambling Among Emerging Adults
Principal Investigator: Mary Larimer, Ph.D., University of Washington
Awarded $172,500 in 2012
Because gambling disorders are more prevalent among emerging adults, ages 18-25, Dr. Larimer’s research will recruit participants through social media to assess their gambling behavior and the effectiveness of brief-interventions as a form of screening and treatment. Given that previous research has shown that personalized feedback interventions are effective in reducing or preventing other high-risk behaviors in young adults, researchers will develop and customize a brief intervention and examine the screen’s effectiveness on gambling disorders among this specific population.
Large Grant: “Evaluating the Potential of Mixed-Function Serotonergic Compounds for Treatment of Gambling Disorders”
Principal Investigator: T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $172,500 in 2012
The long-term objective of this study is to expedite the discovery and development of effective treatment strategies for pathological gambling. The project will use unique rat models to determine if medications used for other diseases can be repurposed for the treatment of gambling disorders. The medications we have selected to test are already known to be safe when used by humans; therefore, successful outcomes from our studies can be rapidly and safely deployed.
Travel Grant: “Creating Change: A Past-Focused Model for PTSD and Addictions”
Principal Investigator: Jon Utley, Psy.D, VA Boston Healthcare System, VA Bedford/ Boston University School of Medicine
Awarded $ 1,500 in 2012
The Travel Grant supported the PI’s participation in the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies conference where he presented a paper on Creating Change (CC), a new past-focused behavioral therapy model developed for comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addictions. The model is designed to address all types of addictions, including substance use disorders, pathological/ problem gambling and other key behavioral addictions.
Seed Grant: "Mirtazapine as a Pharmacological Intervention for Reducing Risk-Taking Behavior"
Principal Investigator: T. Celeste Napier, Ph.D., Rush University Medical Center
Awarded $28,750 in 2011
Dr. Napier will work to identify the potential for repurposing the atypical antidepressant, mirtazapine, as a pharmacological intervention for reducing risk-behavior and/or relapse prevention of gambling disorders. The proposed experiments should also indicate if this drug may be useful for relatively brief interventions for persons with subclinical gambling disorders.
Seed Grant: "Evaluating and Treating the Near-Miss Magnitude Effect in Underage Pathological Gambling"
Principal Investigator: Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University
Awarded $34,500 in 2011
Using a computerized slot-machine task, the present project will attempt to demonstrate that brain activity in 20 under-age pathological gamblers who are exposed to near-misses that resemble large jackpot wins will produce greater activity in the dopamine reward system than near-misses that resemble small jackpot wins in an fMRI scanner. Given that previous research indicated that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective in reducing and altering pathological gambling behavior, the proposed project will also randomly assign the 20 subjects to either a therapy or no-therapy condition, and then examine brain activity in relation to winning, near-miss and losing outcomes prior to and following the 8-week ACT intervention.
Large Grant: "Social Network Analysis of Pathological Gambling"
Principal Investigator: Adam Goodie, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Awarded $172,487 in 2011
Using a social network analysis (SNA), Dr. Goodie will investigate the role of a gambler's social network in his or her gambling-related pathology. Dr. Goodie and his colleagues will use the NCRG grant to analyze how the gambling behavior, personality measures and substance use patterns of one’s social network impacts an individual’s gambling severity. This study will expand upon the pilot data collected as part of an NCRG-funded project that explored the roles of personality and substance use behavioral variables in pathological gambling.
Large Grant: "Assessing the Contribution of Reinforcement-learning Deficits in Pathological Gamblers"
Principal Investigator: John O’Doherty, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology
Awarded $172,500 in 2011
Dr. O’Doherty and his team will investigate the nature of learning within the brain circuitry involved in response to rewarding and punishing events in patients diagnosed with pathological gambling. The researchers will study patterns of neural activity while pathological gamblers – and a comparison group of recreational gamblers – perform simple tasks in which they learn to make choices in order to obtain monetary gains and avoid losses. Dr. O’Doherty and his colleagues hope to learn what neurological factors are involved in responses to rewarding and punishing events among people with gambling problems.
Special Initiatives: "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Personalized Normative Feedback for Problem Gambling College Students"
Principal Investigator: Clayton Neighbors, Ph.D., University of Houston
Awarded $171,561 in 2011
Dr. Neighbors and his research team will develop and test an online screening and brief intervention (SBI) aimed at reducing gambling-related problems among college students. The researchers will conduct a randomized controlled trial evaluating a Personalized Normative Feedback (PNF) intervention for college students with gambling problems. Research has shown that PNF interventions have been successfully used to reduce rates of drinking on campus by showing students their misperceptions of student drinking behavior. Dr. Neighbors will translate this research and create an online screening instrument to reduce problem gambling by showing students their misperceptions of student gambling behavior. Once created, the SBI will be used on CollegeGambling.org, the NCRG’s latest online resource to address gambling and gambling-related harm on college campuses.
Exploration Grant: “A virtual internet gambling paradigm and default-mode brain functioning in Pathological Gamblers assessed by resting-state fMRI”
Primary Investigator: Yijun Liu, Ph.D., University of Florida
Awarded $5,400 in 2010
The project will develop a virtual Internet gambling website to be used as a simulation in a laboratory experiment to test pathological gambling in an online environment. Using an fMRI brain scanner, the researchers will seek to understand the neural pathways involved in excessive gambling and discern what is unique about the online gaming experience for people with gambling-related problems.
Patterns of Information Processing in Risky Decision Making
Principal Investigator: Scott Huettel, Ph.D., Duke University
Awarded $34,500 in 2010
This project will test the hypothesis that whether someone makes a risky or safe choice depends not simply on preferences, but on the strategies they use to acquire and integrate new information. Researchers will evaluate how factors that contribute to risk-seeking choices alter how people process new information about risks and rewards by tracking eye movements during tasks that involve decisions between economic gambles.
Evaluating and Treating the Near-Miss Magnitude Effect in Underage Pathological Gamblers (fMRI)
Principal Investigator: Mark R. Dixon, Ph.D., Southern Illinois State University
Awarded $34,500 in 2010.
Using a computerized slot-machine, the research project will examine the brain activity of disordered gamblers through an fMRI scanner before and after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), an intervention that has shown promise for treating gambling disorders. The investigators will compare the brain scans of the therapy group with the control group to look for evidence of neurobiological changes as a result of ACT.
Efficacy of a Personalized Feedback Intervention at Reducing Gambling Behaviors among College Students
Principal Investigator: Matthew P. Martens, Ph.D., University of Missouri – Columbia
Awarded $172,500 in 2010
This project will test a personalized feedback-only intervention that will provide “at-risk” college students with information about their own behavior. The goal is to determine if college students receiving personalized feedback will report less gambling, fewer dollars gambled and less problem gambling than students in the education/advice and assessment-only control conditions.
"Determinants of Gambling: Distinguishing between Disordered and Recreational Gambling"
Principal Investigator: John Nyman, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Awarded $136,449 in 2010
Researchers will study the differentiating factors between recreational gamblers with no gambling-related problems and pathological gamblers to determine when a recreational gambler becomes a problem gambler. The study will also test the theory that, for recreational gamblers, gambling is an economic activity.
Motivational Pathways to Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Adam Goodie, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Awarded $172,233 in 2009
This project will test whether certain personality types may have a direct, causal link to pathological gambling. The goal of the project is to improve understanding of the determining factors that contribute to the development of gambling disorders to help inform prevention and treatment of different kinds of disordered gamblers.
New Investigator Grant - Gambling Behaviors Among Youth: A Developmental Behavioral Genetic Perspective
Principal Investigator: Serena M. King, Ph.D., L.P., Hamline University
Awarded $57,318 in 2009
Under the mentorship of Dr. Ken Winters, University of Minnesota, Dr. King will analyze large-scale twin studies to examine the roles that behavioral problems, genes and environment play in gambling behaviors from adolescence to young adulthood.
Alcohol and Gambling Types: Motivation and Cue Reactivity
Principal Investigator: Edward Gottheil, MD, Ph.D., University of Washington
Awarded $172,500 in 2006
The study is currently examining relationships between gambling experience and arousal (self-reported and electrodermal) in response to specific types of gambling-related visual cues (machine, cards, sports betting).
An Analysis of Pathological Gambling in the National Comorbidity Replication Survey
Principal Investigator: Ron Kessler, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $115,000 in 2006
The project yielded the first study of the gambling data collected for the 2001-2003 version of the National Comorbidity Replication Survey, the landmark study of mental health among 9,000 households in the U.S., funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The results were published in Psychological Medicine.
The Cognitive Neuroscience of Control and Decision-Making in Problem Gambling
Principal Investigator: Brett A. Clementz, Ph.D., University of Georgia
Awarded $167,088 in 2006
The study is collecting brain activity data while participants engage in behavioral tasks of controlled decision-making. The investigator will look for differences between problem and non-problem gamblers concerning the spatial and temporal patterns of brain functioning that support decision-making.
Dopaminergic Neurotransmission and Cognitive Bias in Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Jakob Linnet, Ph.D., Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
Awarded $149,185 in 2006
The research project tested the hypothesis that pathological gamblers have a lower dopamine concentration and a higher dopamine release during gambling compared with healthy controls; that other factors, such as personality traits such as sensation seeking, influence the dopamine release during gambling; and, that dopamine binding potential and occupancy are associated (directly or indirectly) with cognitive bias of gambling performance.
New Investigator Grant - Gambling Patterns and Problems: A Longitudinal Study of Change in Gambling Patterns in a College Student Sample
Principal Investigator: Anna E. Goudriaan, Ph.D., University of Amsterdam
Awarded $57,436 in 2006
The investigator analyzed gambling patterns, changes over time in gambling patterns, at-risk gambling and gambling problems in sample of 2,470 college students. The study will fill the need for longitudinal studies on sub-clinical gambling problems (i.e., problems with gambling but not sufficiently severe to meet diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling). Findings were published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
New Investigator Grant - Individual Differences in the Propensity to Approach Signals vs. Goals: Relevance to Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Shelly B. Flagel, Ph.D., Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, University of Michigan
Awarded $56,197 in 2006
The investigator took advantage of two animal models of individual differences to create a viable model of pathological gambling that addresses both the impulsivity and risk-taking dimensions of the disorder. The aim is to develop a model that would allow the investigation of the neurobiological circuitry implicated in pathological gambling. Findings were published inNeuropharmacology.
Neuropsychological Correlates of Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Donald W. Black, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
Awarded $172,500 in 2006
The project is conducting a neuropsychological assessment on 100 subjects diagnosed with pathological gambling and 100 controls to test the hypothesis that persons with a gambling disorder will perform more poorly on measures of executive function (e.g., decision-making), attention and impulsivity, but that general intelligence and memory will not differ.
New Investigator Grant - A Novel Approach for Investigating the Neurobiological Basis of Gambling Using a Rodent Analogue of the Iowa Gambling Task
Principal Investigator: Catharine A. Winstanley, Ph.D., University of British Columbia
Awarded $57,500 in 2006
The project developed and tested a novel model of gambling behavior in rats based on the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). It will help determine if the rat IGT (RIGT) is a valid model of gambling behavior and whether damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) increases risky decision-making in keeping with data from human studies.
A Survey of the Pathological Gambling Treatment Workforce
Principal Investigator: Anne Helene Skinstad, Ph.D., University of Iowa, The Prairielands Addiction Technology Transfer Center
Awarded $168,941 in 2006
The project addressed the dearth of knowledge about the professional workforce charged with preventing and treating problem gambling through a survey that will help form a strategy for the design and development of an evidence-based curriculum for delivery to gambling treatment professionals.
Behavioral Couples Therapy for Pathological Gamblers
Principal Investigator: Robert G. Rychtarik, Ph.D., The Research Foundation of SUNY on behalf of the University at Buffalo/Research Institute on Addictions
Awarded $57,500 in 2004
The project conducted the first study of the efficacy of Behavioral Couples Therapy (BCT) for gambling disorders. This pilot will lay the groundwork for an application to the National Institutes of Health for a large-scale trial of BCT, a spouse-involved treatment that has been effective for other addictions.
Guided Self-Change for Treating Problematic Co-morbid Gambling and Alcohol Problems Among College Students
Principal Investigator: James P. Whelan, Ph.D., University of Memphis
Awarded $57,384 in 2004
The study is currently testing the efficacy of treating college students who both drink and gamble to excess with a treatment that is a modification of Guided Self-Change intervention, one of the most well supported brief treatments for alcohol and other substance abuse problems.
Laboratory-based Assessment of Impulsivity in Pathological Gamblers Entering Treatment
Principal Investigator: Nancy Petry, Ph.D., University of Connecticut Health Center
Awarded $56,383 in 2004
The study of impulsivity among gamblers used laboratory-based measures rather than just self-report. The hypothesis is that scores on some measures of impulsivity will be associated with gambling problems, co-occurring substance abuse and poorer gambling treatment outcomes.
New Investigator Grant - Prevalence of Gambling Disorders: Association with Drug Use and Psychiatric Comorbidity in Adolescents Living in Baltimore
Principal Investigator: Silvia Martins, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Awarded $23,000 in 2004
The study examined the gambling habits, gambling problems and comorbid psychiatric problems in a sample of 15-16 year old youth (90% African American) from Baltimore city. The first publication to emerge from this project focused on the females in the sample and reported that female adolescent recreational gambling was associated with high levels of childhood hyperactivity (measured at age six), past-year substance use and past-year anxiety symptoms. The findings were published in the Journal of Adolescent Health and American Journal of Addictions. This grant enabled the PI to secure funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Development to continue the study.
Dopamine Release in Response to Monetary Reward Measured with Positron Emission Tomography
Principal Investigator: Alain Dagher, M.D., McGill University
Awarded $156,634 in 2003
The study is using PET scans of the brain to examine whether reduced dopamine levels is a marker for vulnerability to gambling addiction. The hypothesis is that compared to controls, pathological gamblers will show elevated dopamine release correlates with novelty-seeking personality type, cortisol levels and autonomic and mood measures.
Functional MRI of Decision-Making in Substance Abuse and Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Jody Tanabe, M.D., University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Awarded $172,500 in 2003
The results supported the hypothesis that defects in ventral medial frontal processing lead to impaired decisions that involve risk. Reductions in right prefrontal activity during decision-making appear to be modulated by the presence of gambling problems and may reflect impaired working memory, stimulus reward valuation, or cue reactivity in substance-dependent individuals. The findings were published in Human Brain Mapping and Biological Psychiatry.
Rules, Rewards, and Decisions in the Orbital Prefrontal Cortex
Principal Investigator: Charan Ranganath, Ph.D., University of California-Davis
Awarded $170,291 in 2003
This is the first study to provide direct support for the “reward theory” of extraversion (i.e., characteristics of positive emotions, social engagement). Low extraversion scores have been linked to psychiatric disorders such as depression. The other experiment revealed that subjects with a genetic mutation resulting in reduced levels of dopamine had a reduced neural response to monetary rewards. The results from both experiments demonstrate that low extraversion scores and reduced dopamine predispose some to develop a gambling problem. The findings were published inCognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Brain Research, Neuroscience, Trends in Cognitive Sciences and Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
A Cross-Sectional Study of the Impact of Gambling on Patients with Schizophrenia
Principal Investigator: Rani Desai, Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine
Awarded $172,477 in 2001
The study assessed the prevalence and types of gambling and related behaviors and problems in patients with schizophrenia and the influence of a co-occurring diagnosis with a substance use disorder on gambling behaviors. The research also looked at the impact of different types of treatment on the patients’ gambling behaviors: 1) typical vs. atypical antipsychotics, and 2) treatment with specialized dual diagnosis programs as compared with those receiving mental health and substance abuse services in separate settings. The published study is currently in press at the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Gambling Among Elderly Individuals: Prevalence and Risk Factors
Principal Investigator: Edward Federman, Ph.D., Boston University
Awarded $160,639 in 2001
The study investigated whether mild cognitive impairment or limited social support increases the probability that individuals who attend senior centers will participate in gambling trips and, within that group, whether those factors increase the probability of developing gambling problems.
A Population-Based Twin Study of Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Kenneth Kendler, Ph.D., Virginia Commonwealth University
Awarded $172,500 in 2001
The study is conducting a detailed assessment of gambling problems in a registry of 7,500 adult male and female twins. The aim is to elucidate the heritability of pathological gambling, clarifying its relationship with milder forms of problem gambling, and determining the genetic and environmental relationship between pathological gambling and major psychiatric disorders and personality traits.
Reliability and Validity of an Integrated Gambling Assessment and Treatment Outcome Monitoring System (GAMTOMS)
Principal Investigator: Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Medical School
Awarded $172,294 in 2001
The grant supported the development and testing of one of the first instruments for measuring treatment outcomes for problem gambling. The findings were published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
A Family-Genetic Study of Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: Donald W. Black, M.D., University of Iowa
Awarded $169,929 in 2000.
The study found evidence that family history of gambling disorders plays a role in the development of pathological gambling and that gambling disorders are familial and co-aggregate with substance misuse and possibly anti-social personality disorder. The investigator received a major grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2005 to continue the research. The findings were published in Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease and Psychiatry Research.
Naltrexone and Citalopram Treatment of Pathological Gambling and Co-Morbid Alcohol Abuse or Dependence
Principal Investigator: Marc N. Potenza, M.D., Ph.D., Yale School of Medicine
Awarded $172,500 in 2000
The grant supported a pilot study of the short-term tolerability and efficacy of the antidepressant citalopram, naltrexone (a drug used to blunt cravings for alcohol) and a citalopram/naltrexone combination pharmacotherapy in the treatment of dually diagnosed patients with pathological gambling and alcohol abuse or dependence. The grant also supported the work of the principal investigator on related projects including neuroimaging studies of disordered gamblers and several review articles on the neurobiology of disordered gambling:Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences, Journal of Gambling Studies, American Journal of Psychiatry, Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, Psychiatric Times, Psychiatric Annals, Medical Handbook of Psychiatry (book chapter), Journal of General Internal Medicine, Neuropsychopharmacology: The 5th Generation of Progress (book chapter), JAMA, Archives of General Psychiatry and Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment (book chapter and editor).
Pharmacological Priming of Gambling-Related Cognitions by Amphetamine
Principal Investigator: Martin Zack, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Awarded $75,042 in 2000
The study provided experimental evidence that neurochemical activation, similar to that engaged by psychostimulant drugs, is an important component of gambling addiction. This understanding of the neurochemical system will help identify and assess potential medications for the treatment of pathological gambling. The findings were published in Neuropsychopharmacology and Handbook of Implicit Cognition and Addiction (book chapter).
Adolescent Gambling Behavior as a Function of Individual Differences in Risk-Taking and Potentially Life-Diminishing Behaviors, Gender, Peer and Family Context, and Community Norms For Legalized Gambling
Principal Investigator: Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling, Ph.D., University of South Alabama
Awarded $125,800 in 1999
The study found that demographic, individual, family, and peer variables are all important correlates of probable pathological gambling in adolescents. The results also support the utility of a five-group classification scheme based on the SOGS-RA, an instrument for screening youth for gambling disorders. The findings were published in Journal of Gambling Studies, Suicide and Life-threatening Behavior and Gambling Problems in Youth: Theoretical and Applied Perspectives (book chapter).
Adolescent Understanding of the Emotional and Cognitive Aspects of Gambling: The Development of A Prevention Strategy
Principal Investigator: Nigel E. Turner, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Awarded $88,296 in 1999
The project developed and tested an interactive prevention package designed to enhance the students’ understanding of the role of randomness, probability and emotion in non-problem gambling. The findings were published in the Journal of Gambling Studies.
Affective, Cognitive and Perceptual Processes in Gambling: Differences between Pathological and Recreational Gamblers
Principal Investigator: Lawrence E. Jones, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Awarded $172,155 in 1999
Focused on “how” people gamble, the study examined the basic cognitive, perceptual and affective processes underlying gambling behavior, by both recreational and "problem" gamblers. The goal was to identify and describe several distinct "types" of gambling styles and strategies, including ones that will distinguish between subtypes of pathological gamblers.
The Development of a Diagnostic Gambling Assessment – The GAM-IV
Principal Investigator: Renee Cunningham-Williams, Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis
Awarded $112,021 in 1999
The grant supported the development and testing of a new assessment instrument for gambling disorders. The findings were published in Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, Journal of Gambling Studies, Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment (book chapter) and Journal of Psychiatric Research. The grant provided seed money that helped the lead investigator win grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institute of Mental Health.
Functional MRI of Neural Responses to Monetary Gains, Losses and Prospects in Pathological Gamblers and Normal Subjects
Principal Investigator: Hans Breiter, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
Awarded $172,500 in 1999
This landmark study was the first demonstration that a monetary reward in a gambling-like experiment produces brain activation very similar to that observed in a cocaine addict receiving an infusion of cocaine. The findings were published in two articles in Neuron and a chapter in The Cognitive Neurosciences (3rd ed.). As a result of this grant support, the lead investigator received support from National Institutes of Health and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Reward Deficiency ERPS: Effects of D2a1, Gambling Pathology and ADHD
Principal Investigator: Charles A. Warren, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Chicago
Awarded $172,492 in 1999
The primary aim of this study was to investigate whether certain event-related brain potential (ERP) abnormalities in response to gambling feedback, observed among the gambling disordered in an earlier study, might reflect a reward deficiency syndrome, whose severity theoretically is driven partly by presence of the dopamine D2 receptor gene, A1 variant (D2A1).
Double-Blind Study of Naltrexone and Placebo in the Treatment of Pathological Gambling Disorder
Principal Investigator: Suck Won Kim, M.D., University of Minnesota Medical School
Awarded $53,374 in 1998
The pilot study showed that naltrexone, a drug used to blunt cravings for alcohol, has promise for treating pathological gambling. The findings were published in Biological Psychiatry, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Journal of Gambling Studies, International Clinical Psychopharmacology and Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry. In 2002, the lead investigator was awarded $464,463 by the National Institute of Mental Health to expand this study.
The Harvard Project on Gambling and Health
Principal Investigator: Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $465,069 in 1998
The grant supported several streams of research on gambling and gambling disorders. 1) New prevalence studies were added to the meta-analysis developed with the earlier grant. The updated estimates were published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health in 2001. The principal investigator (PI) also published on issues in measuring prevalence (The Behavioral Measurement Letter). 2) The PI, with David Korn, created a framework for understanding gambling as a public health issue, published in the Journal of Gambling Studies and in the Annual Review of Public Health, the first time that gambling was a topic in the prestigious Annual Review series. 3) Under this grant, the investigators analyzed data from a three-year study of the health risks of casino employees and found that the employees had higher rates of drinking, smoking and gambling problems than the general public. However, the study also found that more employees moved back to health than to more disordered states over the three-year period. This dynamism has led to a questioning of the view of pathological gambling as a static, intractable disorder. Findings were published in American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Addictive Behaviors and Journal of Social Psychology. 4) Several publications focused on how gambling and other behavioral addictions are changing the notion of addiction and other aspects of the construct of pathological gambling (National Forum: The Phi Kappa Phi Journal, Addiction, Encyclopedia of Psychology, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry). 5) The research team began a study of trends in gambling research and published the findings in the Journal of Gambling Studies.
Cognitive Biases in Problem Gambling
Principal Investigator: Nigel E. Turner, Ph.D., Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto
Awarded $33,748 in 1997
Focused on how erroneous thoughts about the odds of winning contribute to the development of a gambling disorder, this study measured the prevalence of cognitive distortions and errors in reasoning in samples of treatment-seeking, treated and non-treated gamblers as well as non-problem gamblers and non-gamblers.
Cognitive Treatment of Pathological Gambling Among Adults and Adolescents
Principal Investigator: Robert Ladouceur, Ph.D., Universitié Laval
Awarded $140,499 in 1997
The study demonstrated the promise of cognitive therapy—correcting the gambler’s erroneous assumptions about probability and statistics—as a treatment for pathological gamblers. The findings were published in Addictive Behaviors: An International Journal, Understanding and Treating Pathological Gamblers (book),Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Comprehensive Clinical Psychology (book chapter), Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Journal of Gambling Studies, Behaviour Research and Therapy and Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Critical Dimensions of Relapse in Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: David C. Hodgins, Ph.D., University of Calgary
Awarded $106,638 in 1997
The study found a high relapse rate among a sample of pathological gamblers who had recently quit gambling. The most frequently reported attributions, particularly for major relapses, were cognitions about winning and feeling the need to make money, unlike substance abuse relapses that tend to be attributed to negative affect. The findings were published in Addictive Behaviors, Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors,Addiction Research and Therapy, Electronic Journal of Gambling Studies and Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.
The Molecular Genetics of Pathological Gambling
Principal Investigator: David E. Comings, M.D., The City of Hope National Medical Center
Awarded $159,900 in 1997
The investigator found a significant association between pathological gambling and multiple dopamine receptor genes thus lending support for the idea that people with gambling disorders have a deficient reward center that predisposes them to developing a gambling disorder. The findings were published in Molecular Psychiatry, CNS Spectrums, American Journal of Medical Genetics,Neuroreport, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Prevention of Antisocial Behavior (book chapter), Cognition, Emotion and Autonomic Responses (book chapter), American Journal of Medical Genetics,Neuropsychiatric Genetics, and Clinical Genetics.
Psychosocial and Behavioral Factors Associated with Problem Gambling by Youth
Principal Investigator: Randy Stinchfield, Ph.D., Minnesota Institute on Public Health
Awarded $57,339 in 1997
This study of Minnesota public school students showed an overall decline in gambling but an increase in 12th graders gambling frequently, especially on the lottery. The findings were published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Psychiatric Annals, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment (book chapter), Gambling problems in youth: Theoretical and applied perspectives(book chapter) and The Downside: Problem and Pathological Gambling (book chapter).
Relation of Cognitive Status to Brain Blood Flow and Dopamine Receptors in Pathological Gamblers
Principal Investigator: Peter F. Goyer, M.D., VA Medical Center-Cleveland
Awarded $138,000 in 1997.
The study tested the hypotheses that disordered gamblers, compared to controls, will perform more poorly on tests of attention and executive function, will have significantly reduced rCBF in frontal cortex and reduced dopamine D2 receptor function, and will be more likely to be carriers of the D2A1 allele for the dopamine D2 receptor gene.
Youth Gambling: Transition from Adolescence to Young Adulthood
Principal Investigator: Ken C. Winters, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
Awarded $56,410 in 1997
The investigator found no significant changes over an eight-year period but did find a considerable increase in “at-risk” youth gamblers, those individuals with potential to move toward a more severe level of problem gambling at some future time. The findings were published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Pathological Gambling: A Clinical Guide to Treatment (book chapter), The Downside: Problem and Pathological Gambling (book chapter) and Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.
Estimating the Prevalence of Disordered Gambling Behavior in the United States and Canada: A Meta-Analysis
Principal Investigator: Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., Harvard Medical School
Awarded $140,000 in 1996
A meta-analytic strategy was used to synthesize estimates from 119 prevalence studies to determine the rates of gambling disorders in the adult general population and subpopulations, such as youth and psychiatric patients. The study found a significantly higher rate of the most severe form of the disorder in the subpopulations compared with the adult general population (1.6 percent). The findings were published in American Journal of Public Health and praised by the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Committee on the Social and Economic Impact of Pathological Gambling as the most reliable estimates to date (Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review, 1999).