| September 10, 2020

Gambling Psychology: How The Brain Responds To Motives & Money

Marina Turea

Marina is passionate about all emerging technologies in the healthcare space and love to write about all of them. Marina is passionate about all emerging technologies in the healthcare space and love to write about all of them.

What happens to your brain when you gamble? Well, that is a good question. I hope to be able to answer that for you in this article. I’ll try not to get too technical, keeping my explanation as basic as possible and give you a couple of examples on what gambling does to me to help you to understand the points I am going to try to make.

COVID-19 Has Truly Become A Game Changer

Now that we are living in the World of Covid-19, things have changed a lot. The things we do for fun have most certainly shifted in format. One thing I used to do a lot was to visit coffee shops. With social distancing protocols, a trip to the coffee shop has quit being as social as it used to be. Other things I would do for fun have had much the same changes because of COVID. I used to like going to the live casino every so often. Now I have to get that pleasure of winning from online casinos. One I’ve started to enjoy is betchan.com but there are hundreds of websites you can use for online gambling.

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It’s Called Dopamine, Which Is Sort of A Funny Name

So, I spend time at online casinos. When I win, I feel pretty good. That’s because my brain falls under the influence of a hormone that gets produced by my central nervous system. That hormone is called Dopamine. It is used to communicate from one nerve cell to another which makes it a neurotransmitter. Dopamine is the only neurotransmitter in the central nervous system and since your brain is the main organ in that same system, it will get flooded by dopamine.

Here’s where it gets very interesting. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that produces pleasure. In other words, it is like a “happy hormone” shooting through your nervous system telling all the cells along the way that something good just happened. That’s why I feel good when the online casino program tells me I just won a series of bonus spins or a bonus game or a jackpot of some kind. My brain responds to the dopamine with the acknowledgment that something good happened.

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Dopamine Controls A Lot More Than Pleasure

It’s true, this hormone does a great deal more inside our brain than we know. It helps us to learn things, it impacts our mood, it shows us how to handle pain and it helps us to sleep. Dopamine also assists our body in dealing with various physical functions including our heart rate, kidney function, and in women, milk production. So, as you can see, dopamine is a vital hormone in our bodies responsible for several functions aside from making us feel good when we hit a jackpot playing video slots or online poker. But there is a delicate balance required.

Too Much Dopamine Can Spell Trouble

Dopamine levels can change. They will increase with a winning poker hand or any other source of pleasure. However, too much of a good thing can result in one of several issues related to your brain. They fall under the category of mental health issues, so that should give you a clue of where I’m heading next with this article. Things like ADHD and Schizophrenia can develop from dopamine levels that get out of hand. another issue is drug use. Because for many, drugs bring pleasurable feelings, it also triggers the release of dopamine. It could lead to a situation where drugs become the only way someone can get their brain to feel that something good has happened. This results in repeated drug use. However, your brain will respond to this. It will cause you to quit feeling the sensation that comes from dopamine and eventually quit producing the hormone naturally. The very same thing happens if you get hooked on gambling.

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What Happens Next

Once your brain has developed a tolerance for the trigger you use to fire off dopamine into your system, it gets harder and harder to get your body to release that hormone. So you try harder. This means taking bigger risks at the online casino table because you are at the point where you now crave the dopamine rush. You need it so bad. Eventually, you will discover that the risks are not worth taking and you ease up. Without dopamine flooding through your central nervous system, you start to spiral into a depression. Now is the time to seek professional help.

Neurochemicals Are Used To Measure Brain Activity

Thanks to science, the brain has been studied extensively and continues to be the subject of many different studies. With the assistance of imaging tools and chemical testing, scientists have been able to measure the volume of neurochemicals in the brain which helps them to determine what the brain does during certain activities. The portions of the brain studied were the prefrontal cortex, which is the front part of your brain, and the ventral striatum. This part processes things and is buried deep within the brain.

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What Goes On In Your Brain When You Are Gambling

When you gamble, blood flow increase to both the prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. However, the ventral striatum tends to become less active in the brains of problem gamblers. This is concerning as that is the part of the brain that does the processing – it controls emotions. An overactive gambler will end up causing that part of the brain to lose some of the ability it has to do the job it is meant to do.

In Conclusion

Your brain likes gambling to the point where it will reward your body with dopamine when you win. After a while, when your brain gets used to you winning a lot, it starts to go numb to the trigger that sends the signal to release dopamine. This means that you will often crave that feeling and take risks to receive the dopamine. But you can prevent this from happening by keeping your gambling under control. Play for fun and set limits and don’t go over them. That way you can still enjoy gambling and have your body rewarded for the pleasure that playing online casino games can bring.

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