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Video: Why Do Casinos Encourage Addictive Behaviors?

Update Date: Jan 21, 2016 09:14 AM EST

It's the environment! If you plunge into a world of lights, sound and a positive atmosphere, it increases risky behaviour too, like gambling---even in rats!

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that even rats begin to adopt "gambling-like" behaviors in such an environment, but when a specific dopamine receptor, D3, was cordoned off in their brains, they would not go for an attractive atmosphere, according to scienceworldreport.

"Anyone who's ever designed a casino game or played a gambling game will tell you that of course sound and light cues keep you more engaged, but now we can show it scientifically," said Dr. Catharine Winstanley, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, in a news release.

"I often feel that scientific models are decades behind the casinos. I don't think it's an accident that casinos are filled with lights and noise."

The rats were given training to seek out some treats even if it involved risks. The responses were tested with or without a "casino-like environment".

Even if rats understood that they should avoid risks that led to punishment, the study showed that both light and sound changed their ability to think properly and made them take on bigger risks. Only when the scientists gave them drugs to block the dopamine D3 receptor did their behaviour change and they stopped taking risks.

"This brain receptor is also really important to drug addiction, so our findings help support the idea that risky behavior across different vices might have a common biological cause," said Michael Barrus, a doctoral candidate at the University of British Columbia.

The study is published in the journal Neuroscience.


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