Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Training people to inhibit movements can reduce risk-taking

Date:
June 14, 2012
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
People can train their brains to become less impulsive, resulting in less risk-taking during gambling. The research could pave the way for new treatments for people with addictions to gambling, drugs or alcohol as well as impulse-control disorders, such as ADHD.

New research from psychologists at the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff shows that people can train their brains to become less impulsive, resulting in less risk-taking during gambling.
Credit: Sashkin / Fotolia

New research from psychologists at the Universities of Exeter and Cardiff shows that people can train their brains to become less impulsive, resulting in less risk-taking during gambling. The research could pave the way for new treatments for people with addictions to gambling, drugs or alcohol as well as impulse-control disorders, such as ADHD.

Related Articles


Published June 14, 2012, in the journal Psychological Science, the study assessed whether asking people to stop making simple movements while in a simulated gambling situation affected how risky or cautious they were when betting.

In a first experiment, participants were asked to repeatedly place a bet in a gambling task. The participants were all students, in good health. They were presented with safe options (low gain, high probability) and more risky options (high gain, low probability), and were asked to indicate their choice by pressing a key on a computer keyboard. The researchers examined the preference for the safer options. Sometimes, the gambling task was combined with an 'inhibition task', similar to those used to study impulse control in the laboratory. Participants had to withhold their choice response when a 'stop' signal was presented, forcing them to stop themselves from pressing a key on the keyboard.

When participants occasionally had to stop their choice response, they slowed down, and importantly, became more cautious in the amount of money they bet each time. This suggests that becoming more cautious about simple movements reduces the tendency to make risky monetary decisions.

In the second and third experiments, the researchers examined whether training people to stop hand responses to arbitrary stimuli presented on a computer screen would also have longer-term effects on gambling. They found that a short period of inhibition training reduced gambling by ten to fifteen per cent, a small but statistically significant reduction, and that this effect lasted at least two hours.

Lead researcher, Dr Frederick Verbruggen of the University of Exeter said: "Our research shows that by training themselves to stop simple hand movements, people can also learn to control their decision-making processes to avoid placing risky bets.

"This work could have important practical implications for the treatment of behavioural addictions, such as pathological gambling, which have previously been associated with impaired impulse control, and more specifically, deficits in stopping actions. We are now exploring the relevance of our findings to other addictions, such as smoking or overeating, which we did not look at in this study. Addictions are very complex and individual, and our approach would only target one aspect of the problem. However, we are very excited about the potential of helping a proportion of people whose lives are affected by gambling and other addictions."

Dr Chris Chambers of Cardiff University's School of Psychology added: "These results suggest that our impulses are controlled by highly connected brain systems, reaching from the most basic motor actions to more complicated risky decisions. Our study shows that inhibition training reduces risk-taking during gambling in healthy volunteers but it does not show that inhibition training reduces gambling addiction. More studies are now needed to discover whether training people to boost a low-level 'inhibitory muscle' could help treat addictions, but these initial findings are promising."

For ethical reasons the gambling experiments only simulated some aspects of real-life gambling. Although participants did play for real money, the amounts were small (the maximum win was 4.20) and participants could not become indebted.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Verbruggen, R. Adams, C. D. Chambers. Proactive Motor Control Reduces Monetary Risk Taking in Gambling. Psychological Science, 2012; DOI: 10.1177/0956797611434538

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Training people to inhibit movements can reduce risk-taking." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614130938.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2012, June 14). Training people to inhibit movements can reduce risk-taking. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614130938.htm
University of Exeter. "Training people to inhibit movements can reduce risk-taking." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120614130938.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins