Lights, sounds paired with winning encourages risk-taking

October 29, 2018

The intense audiovisual feedback from slot machines can directly influence a player's decisions, suggests a laboratory study of more than 100 healthy adults published in JNeurosci. The research raises new concerns that these machines and similar devices promote problematic gambling.

Prompted by animal research demonstrating sensory cues paired with a reward enhance risky decision-making, Catharine Winstanley, Mariya Cherkasova, and colleagues examined whether this would also be the case among human participants engaged in laboratory tasks featuring sensory feedback modeled after the "bells and whistles" used to signal winning outcomes in commercial gambling products.

The researchers found that pairing larger "wins" with progressively complex money imagery and casino jingles increased participants' preference for high-risk decisions. These cues also reduced participants' sensitivity to the information presented to them about the likelihood of winning. Finally, the researchers observed greater pupil dilation in subjects who were performing the cued version of the decision making task, indicating the players were more aroused when winning outcomes were paired with sensory cues.

Risky decision making is associated with greater addiction risk. Together, these results provide new insight into the role played by salient audiovisual cues in promoting risky choice, and could in part explain why some people persist in gambling in casinos (or on slot machines) despite unfavorable odds of winning.
Article: Win-concurrent sensory cues can promote riskier choice*
Corresponding authors: Catharine Winstanley, and Mariya Cherkasova, (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

*A preprint of this manuscript has been posted on bioRxiv

About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

Society for Neuroscience

Related Gambling Articles from Brightsurf:

Gambling addiction: an aid from patients' stories
How do people affected by pathological gambling tell their story?

Links between video games and gambling run deeper than previously thought, study reveals
A new study suggests that a number of practices in video games, such as token wagering, real-money gaming, and social casino spending, are significantly linked to problem gambling.

Leading academics call for statutory levy on gambling firms to reduce harm
Leading UK academic scientists are urging the government to introduce a statutory levy on gambling firms to deliver reductions in gambling harms.

How sound and visual effects on slot machines increase the allure of gambling
The sights and sounds of winning on a slot machine may increase your desire to play--and your memories of winning big, according to new research by University of Alberta scientists.

Near misses on slot machines may not encourage continued gambling
For nearly 70 years, researchers believed that near-miss events like these would encourage you to continue gambling.

UMass Amherst researchers release new findings in groundbreaking gambling study
New findings released Sept. 12 from a groundbreaking gambling study by a University of Massachusetts Amherst research team show that out-of-state casino gambling among Massachusetts residents decreased significantly after the Commonwealth's first slot parlor, Plainridge Park Casino, opened in Plainville in the summer of 2015.

Lure of the 'loot box' looks a lot like gambling
An increasingly popular feature of modern video games is attracting gamers who share the beliefs and behaviours of problem gamblers, new UBC research has found.

Gaming or gambling? Online transactions blur boundaries
In-game purchasing systems, such as 'loot boxes', in popular online games resemble gambling and may pose financial risks for vulnerable players, according to gambling psychology researchers at the University of Adelaide.

UMass Amherst team reports gambling research results to Massachusetts Gaming Commission
Results of a baseline study on gambling behavior in Massachusetts that establishes how people participated -- or not -- in gambling prior to the opening of any casinos were reported on Jan.

When new players learn slot-machine tricks, they avoid gambling addiction
Novice gamblers who watched a short video about how slot machines disguise losses as wins have a better chance of avoiding gambling problems, according to new research.

Read More: Gambling News and Gambling Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to