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Psychiatry Res. 2015 Jun 30;232(3):208-13. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 13.

Mapping brain volumetric abnormalities in never-treated pathological gamblers.

Author information

1
Psychology & Neuropsychology Unit, Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Hospital, Medical School, University of São Paulo (IPq-HCFMUSP), Integrated Laboratories of Neuropsychology (LINEU), São Paulo, Brazil.
2
Department of Psychiatry, HCFMUSP, Brazil; Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Applied Neurosciences (NAPNA), University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
3
Department of Mental Health, School of Medicine, Federal University of Minas Gerais-UFMG, LINEU, Brazil.
4
Institute of Radiology, HCFMUSP, Brazil.
5
Section of Magnetic Resonance, Heart Institute, HCFMUSP, Brazil.
6
Department of Psychiatry, HCFMUSP, Brazil; Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Applied Neurosciences (NAPNA), University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil. Electronic address: geraldo.busatto@gmail.com.
7
Department of Psychiatry, HCFMUSP, Brazil.
8
Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences USP, Laboratory of Psychopharmacology-LIM-23, IPq-HCFMUSP, Brazil; Center for Interdisciplinary Research on Applied Neurosciences (NAPNA), University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.

Abstract

Several magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies to date have investigated brain abnormalities in association with the diagnosis of pathological gambling (PG), but very few of these have specifically searched for brain volume differences between PG patients and healthy volunteers (HV). To investigate brain volume differences between PG patients and HV, 30 male never-treated PG patients (DSM-IV-TR criteria) and 30 closely matched HV without history of psychiatric disorders in the past 2 years underwent structural magnetic resonance imaging with a 1.5-T instrument. Using Freesurfer software, we performed an exploratory whole-brain voxelwise volume comparison between the PG group and the HV group, with false-discovery rate correction for multiple comparisons (p < 0.05). Using a more flexible statistical threshold (p < 0.01, uncorrected for multiple comparisons), we also measured absolute and regional volumes of several brain structures separately. The voxelwise analysis showed no clusters of significant regional differences between the PG and HV groups. The additional analyses of absolute and regional brain volumes showed increased absolute global gray matter volumes in PG patients relative to the HV group, as well as relatively decreased volumes specifically in the left putamen, right thalamus and right hippocampus (corrected for total gray matter). Our findings indicate that structural brain abnormalities may contribute to the functional changes associated with the symptoms of PG, and they highlight the relevance of the brain reward system to the pathophysiology of this disorder.

KEYWORDS:

Addiction; Hippocampus; Impulse control disorder; Magnetic resonance imaging; Putamen; Thalamus

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