Pathophysiology

Several studies have examined neurochemical changes in pathological gamblers. One study measured levels of Neurotransmitters and their metabolites in the body fluids of male pathological gamblers, comparing these to levels in normal male subjects. The researchers found an elevated level of a Norepinephrine metabolite in the gamblers' urine and cerebrospinal fluid, presumably caused by an increased production of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine within the brain. Furthermore, a psychological measure of extraversion in the gamblers was correlated with levels of norepinephrine and its metabolites in their body fluids. Other, less direct evidence suggests the involvement of additional neurotransmitters, including DOPAMINE and Serotonin. A single study of beta Endorphins in pathological gamblers found lower baseline levels in those who bet on horse races than those who played poker-machines or those who were not gam blers. Although research on the pathophysiology of this disease is still preliminary, commonalities with other addictions through central nervous system mechanisms are being sought.

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