Dopamine release in ventral striatum of pathological gamblers losing money

J. Linnet, E. Peterson, D. J. Doudet, A. Gjedde, A. Møller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate dopaminergic neurotransmission in relation to monetary reward and punishment in pathological gambling. Pathological gamblers (PG) often continue gambling despite losses, known as 'chasing one's losses'. We therefore hypothesized that losing money would be associated with increased dopamine release in the ventral striatum of PG compared with healthy controls (HC). Method: We used Positron Emission Tomography (PET) with [ 11C]raclopride to measure dopamine release in the ventral striatum of 16 PG and 15 HC playing the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). Results: PG who lost money had significantly increased dopamine release in the left ventral striatum compared with HC. PG and HC who won money did not differ in dopamine release. Conclusion: Our findings suggest a dopaminergic basis of monetary losses in pathological gambling, which might explain loss-chasing behavior. The findings may have implications for the understanding of dopamine dysfunctions and impaired decision-making in pathological gambling and substance-related addictions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-333
Number of pages8
JournalActa Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2010


  • behavior
  • cognitive impairment
  • dopamine
  • neurotransmitters
  • pathological gambling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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