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Psychol Sci. 2012 Jul 1;23(7):805-15. doi: 10.1177/0956797611434538. Epub 2012 Jun 12.

Proactive motor control reduces monetary risk taking in gambling.

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  • 1Psychology, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, Washington Singer Laboratories, Streatham Campus, Exeter, EX4 4QG, United Kingdom.


Less supervision by the executive system after disruption of the right prefrontal cortex leads to increased risk taking in gambling because superficially attractive-but risky-choices are not suppressed. Similarly, people might gamble more in multitask situations than in single-task situations because concurrent executive processes usually interfere with each other. In the study reported here, we used a novel monetary decision-making paradigm to investigate whether multitasking could reduce rather than increase risk taking in gambling. We found that performing a task that induced cautious motor responding reduced gambling in a multitask situation (Experiment 1). We then found that a short period of inhibitory training lessened risk taking in gambling at least 2 hr later (Experiments 2 and 3). Our findings indicate that proactive motor control strongly affects monetary risk taking in gambling. The link between control systems at different cognitive levels might be exploited to develop new methods for rehabilitation of addiction and impulse-control disorders.

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